Roy McIvor


Born: 1934
Location: Cape Bedford Mission
Clan Group: Binthi
Language: Guugu Yimithirr

Roy McIvor, a senior Guugu Yimithirr man. has been painting for over fifty years. His paintings, underpinned by the traditional art of his ancestors, explore the contemporary social landscape of community life.

His series of paintings Dynamic Order consolidates McIvor’s repertoire of inspiration. The paintings are dense but harmonious – a meditation on the dynamic order and beauty in nature as a balm for the crises in modern day life. The Web of Life series is the artist’s contemplation on the interconnectedness of all things.

In the community you’re never short of a problem. I wanted to give that trouble away, and wondered how can I live through this? Life was like captivity and I thought about how can we change it – how can we think differently about our life and take control of it? We had no freedom to live our own life and I wanted to liberate my people through my art. People need to know that Indigenous people can bring about changes in their life themselves.

The paintings recall the emotional feelings I experienced when I first saw the rock art that is all around my Binthi homelands, so my work is like a dance between this traditional imagery and the modern reality, punctuated by a graffiti like urban motif.

Art is precious in life. I kept up with my culture’s traditional style because it reminds me of my old people. It reminds me of their life, they were wonderful artists too. I thought about that, and I thought about my country at McIvor River. I look at the countryside and remember how beautiful it is, and how my old people were up on the mountains, painting beautifully on the rock.

Today Roy McIvor lives at Hope Vale, 50km north of Cooktown, where he is chairman of the Hope Vale Arts and Cultural Centre and a stalwart figure in the promotion of Indigenous art and culture.

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