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Nuddij (also known as Richard John Bennett) was born in 1961 of a Ngalakan (a tribal estate located north of Roper River and east of Wilton River, Northern Territory) father and Barkinji (Pooncarrie, New South Wales) mother. His mother, Isabelle, was removed from her family in Menindee when 14 years old (c.1940) and was raised at Garden Point Mission, Melville Island. Similarly his father was removed from his Arnhem Land family and raised on the same mission, where they both married, had children and lived for a further 10 years before leaving in 1957 to work on a NT plantation. Richard’s father passed away a few years later and after living a few years in Darwin, Isabelle returned to New South Wales to re-unite with her mother and raise her family in Menindee.

Richard visited his Northern Territory family as a young adult (c.1980s) and states that he was given the name Nuddij. The meaning of Nuddij is unknown to the author, but Dr Brett Baker, University of New England, who is an expert in Ngalakan linguistics believes it is the tribal skin name 'ngarritj’. Richard has been making art most of his life, with carved emu eggs only one of his specialties. His training and associates in Menindee are not known. In 2006, Ah Chung’s Bakehouse Gallery in Menindee (director: Howard Setton) held Nuddij works from the early 1990s but few other indigenous artists were evident there, suggesting Nuddij was largely self-taught. In both subject matter and style his work reveals both western New South Wales and Northern Territory influences. In one example held in the collection of the Australian Museum in Sydney, the image of a crocodile dominates the work but it is carved in Barkinji style.

He was painting in this style in 1990, however by 2006 he was painting realistic pictures of bush animals (kookaburra, kangaroo) and figurative Barkinji tribesmen for sale in Broken Hill (Art on Argent Gallery, Argent St) and Adelaide. In May 2008, Nuddij won First Prize (Open) for Tribesman with Dijaridoo in the inaugural Far West Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Art Prize at Broken Hill Regional Art Gallery.

Brown, Stephen K
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