Barney was born in 1941 and was part of the Alawa language group, south east of Katherine. His tribe is from the upper reaches of the Cox and Arnold Rivers, south of the Roper River and west of the Gulf of Carpentaria. He was a senior law man and a highly regarded traditional elder of his people.
All of his artworks are visions of his land and country and have deep meaning for him. Each line represents a different aspect of his country; some of the features have come to him through his dreams. Barney paints his mother’s country, which features rivers and billabongs. At times Barney will include Bandian – The King Brown Snake. His style is similar to ancient rock art throughout the Alawa country.
Barney’s artwork is highly sought after nationally and internationally and he has had several successful solo exhibitions as well as group exhibitions. He participated in his first exhibition in 1989 and has been exhibited widely around Australia and in the USA. His artworks can be found in a number of major Australian public and private galleries and collections. Barney has been an entrant and finalist in several prestigious art awards in Australia including the Togart Contemporary Art Award, The National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Art Award and the Australian Heritage Commission Art Award.
His fresh and dynamic approach gave impact and power to these abstract pieces, and as a consequence his work is in high demand.
Since the introduction of acrylic paints and canvas Aboriginal art has transgressed from traditional symbols representing ceremonial ritual and story to an international phenomenon exploring the realms of contemporary abstraction. Barney mastered this introduced medium.