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 indigenous design with contemporary style and innovative colour combinations.
Speaking fondly 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, ‘you have to go back home. Go home and get the feeling for your country. Feel it. Paint it’.”
And Bibi did just that. “I adored my Grandmother. Even at 19 I would cuddle up to her, all the kids would. So 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 started with $1.50 watercolour tubes, painting symbolic stories onto paper in rich pinks and greens and yellows – but never showed anybody. The paintings stayed hidden until a friend discovered them, and took a few of the small paintings to a gallery owner. He was so impressed by Bibi’s instinctive style that he invited her to exhibit her work in his gallery.
Her first solo exhibition, comprising of 25 watercolours, sold out. Since then Bibi has continued to develop her technique, telling stories about her life and love of her land through sensuous shapes and vibrant colour on canvas.