b. 1934, Cape Bedford Mission
d. 2018, Hopevale

Clan Group: Binthi
Language: Guugu Yimithi

Roy McIvor, a senior Guugu Yimithirr man made art over a period of over fifty years. His work, underpinned by the traditional art of his ancestors, explored the contemporary social landscape of community life.

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.

My work often recalls the 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.