Barney Ellaga was born c.1928 in the desert near Warburton, Western Australia. His father was an Alawa man and his mother, a Ngalakan speaker from Arnhem Land.
Barney leads a rich life, moving around his dreaming country in his role as a traditional man. He has been deeply immersed in his painting for a long time, becoming involved a considerable time before the acrylic movement of Papunya even began.
Barney paints a number of dreaming stories and depictions of the Tingarri cycle of the Macdonald Ranges and Tjukurla. He uses many different techniques when painting. One style incorporates the use of roundels in dot form or in block form whilst his other style incorporates the use of the above together with an arrangement of stripes across the canvas. These bands of colour may be placed across the work at oblique angles, giving the work a stunning appearance.
These stories have been handed down to Barney by his grandfather and his father from generation to generation for many thousands of years. He must now keep these stories and pass them on to future generations so they may be preserved.
Barney is a highly respected member of his people and is very confident and proud when speaking of his traditional ways. His message is peace, harmony and happiness. Barney paints his dreaming stories totally naturally in a straightforward and delightful way. These qualities reflect his persona and acclaim the spirit of his family, his country and his people.
Australian Heritage Commission National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Art Award Exhibition 1994 Old Parliament House, Canberra
The Twelfth National Aboriginal Art Award Museum and Art Gallery of the
Northern Territory, Darwin
Inaugural exhibition at The Ian Potter Centre: NGV Australia at Federation Square, October 2002
National Gallery of Australia, Canberra
Kerry Stokes Collection, Perth.
Laverty Collection, Sydney.
Macquarie Bank Collection, Sydney.
National Aboriginal Cultural Institute Inc., SA.
National Gallery of Victoria, Melbourne.
Northern Land Council Native Title Collection, Darwin.
R.H. & A. Myer Collection, Melbourne.