My given tribal name is Bindur Bullin, after a great warrior. I am a descendant of the Indinji tribe who occupied the fertile rainforest lands from Cairns in the north to Babinda in the south and west into the Atherton Tablelands as far as Kairi.

My ancestral history is rooted in this region. My great-grandparents were both tribal elders when all the lands were Indinji. My father, George, also knew the traditional ways of living. He spoke the Indinji language, though he wasn’t allowed to speak it when he went to school. He was forced to reject the traditional ways and to assimilate to the white society. This broke the continuity of our culture, language and heritage that has been passed down through many generations.

It has been up to me to research my cultural background and to rediscover my heritage. My grandmother, who spoke Indinji, taught me stories and legends about the rainforest – its bush food, animals, young warriors and special places such as Babinda Boulders and the Gordonvale Pyramid. These stories are the inspirations to many of my paintings.

I incorporate traditional designs with modern techniques in my art, and each design has a spiritual meaning. Take, for example, the fighting shield: it was used for fighting and played an important role in young men’s initiation. After receiving his final initiation marks, each man was given a shield to paint. Every design had a different meaning associated with totems or inspired by legends.