Bibi Barba was born in Roma, Queensland, and raised in Liverpool, Sydney, Australia. Inspired by her Grandmother’s storytelling and her love of the land, Bibi’s artwork has a sense of vivid storytelling, melding traditional Aboriginal design with contemporary style.
Speaking about her childhood Bibi says, “Every Sunday night we’d go to Nan’s for dinner, and she would tell us stories of her life. She would say, ‘Go home and get the feeling for your country. Feel it. Paint it’.” And Bibi did just that. “I adored my Grandmother. I went back to the Australian bush and started to physically feel my culture. That’s what she told me to do. In a way, I’m saying thank you to her in my paintings.”
Bibi’s career met with serious controversy in 2012 when a Polish hotel opened featuring interior design ‘inspired’ by Bibi’s artwork Desert Flowers. The hotel did not seek permission to use her artwork as the basis for their design and her attempts to come to an agreement were ignored. Bibi, along with the executive director of the Arts Law Centre of Australia, Robyn Ayres, feels there was an unlawful breach of copyright, which the hotel’s designer denies.
Said Robyn Ayers to journalist Andrew Taylor from The Age, “In my opinion this constitutes an unlawful reproduction of the work under Australian copyright laws. If a court was to compare Bibi Barba’s paintings with the carpets in the Polish hotel, the striking similarity would be apparent.”
The copyright infringement case continues. Bibi is now studying Law in order to help other Aboriginal artists who also experience copyright infringement.
Bibi kindly gave us permission to use Desert Flowers as the background for our Moments of Choice cards. Her artwork also appears on our Moments of Awareness cards. The video below was produced by the Copyright Agency. Visit Bibi’s website here.