“I’m privileged I’m able to use my success to help other people”, says Yulparija artist Daniel Walbidi from Bidyadanga near Broome.

Walbidi – still in his 20s – discovered art as a ten-year-old at school, starting out painting still life scenes. Now he introduces the traditional Aboriginal art style to old and young people in his Western Australian community. “Usually in our culture it’s the elders that teach, but I sort of introduced them to painting,” says the softly spoken Daniel.

Daniel’s art is going to be displayed and available for purchase, amongst other artists’ works, from this weekend at the annual Shalom Gamarada art exhibition in Sydney. It’s a rare chance to buy a Walbidi – one of the most collectible Aboriginal artists currently. Bidyadanga art will be on show with that from Yuendemu in the Central Desert and Peppimenarti south of Darwin. The three art coordinators from those communities will also be on tap today (Sunday19/7) to introduce buyers to the works of their artists.

The Shalom Gamarada art exhibition raises money to fund scholarships for Indigenous medical students and is something Daniel says he is proud of being involved in. “I’m privileged I’m able to use my success to help other people… It’s very hard for Aboriginal people with disadvantages and everything,” he said.

When he paints, Daniel says he thinks about the history of his Martu people, who used to live on the Canning Stock Route before heading north to Broome. But he also recognises the influence that contemporary culture has had on his people. “We are living in the new millenium, and our culture is still strong but it’s taking a different form. We’re still recording it through art and other things.

“Me being young, I’ve sort of being experimenting. I use colours that normally wouldn’t be used in traditional art”. Some of Walbidi’s colour choices are dictated by the fact that he lives beside the sea now rather than deep in the desert.

The exhibition runs at the Shalom residential college at the Unviersity of NSW in Kensington from 19th to 26th July 2009.

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