Maria was born in 1973 and grew up in the areas of Bedford Downs and Turkey Creek in the East Kimberley region of Western Australia. She has lived and worked in Kununurra, Darwin and Broome and currently lives in Darwin.
Maria comes from a large extended East Kimberley family and grew up with the elders who passed on stories and motifs of the area, many of which are represented in her art work. Maria’s grandfather is Paddy Bedford, one of the most celebrated East Kimberley artists who achieved international fame in his lifetime as the leading artist for the highly successful Jirrawun Arts. Her uncle is Rammey Ramsey, who was also a senior Jirrawun artist.
Maria’s father, Sally Malay, was a noted Aboriginal stockman who worked the station country around Halls Creek and Wyndham in the East and South Kimberley. In 2008, Maria represented her family in drawing attention to the inappropriate use of her father’s name which was being used by a leading nickel miner. Maria was successful in challenging the miner’s use of the name, which was subsequently changed to Panoramic Resources in June 2008.
Maria’s style is reminiscent of the ‘Turkey Creek school’, with representation of the hills around the East Kimberley, and the “beehives” so famously associated with Purnululu however Maria has set herself apart from her relatives by executing her works in the acrylic medium and often using the traditional ‘dot style’ of the early indigenous artists.
Maria has a wonderful artistic future ahead of her. She is smart, talented and dedicated and is certainly an artist to follow closely as her career flourishes.