Barbara Backstrom identifies strongly with her Aboriginal grandmother who came from the Fitzroy River country in the north of Western Australia, commonly known as the Channel country.
Born in Derby, Western Australia in 1949, Backstrom has a rich heritage. Her mother is Aboriginal and Chinese whilst her father has an English/Jewish heritage. Her grandmother’s people were called Miangla of which there are very few people left.
Backstrom’s work often depicts the Dreamtime with the Wandjina looking over the people and the Rainbow Serpent who carved out the rivers and the gorges.
Backstrom’s first artistic endeavours involved carving boab nuts for which she won the Aboriginal artefacts section in 1992 at the Derby, West Kimberley Craft Festival. The line she uses in all her work, including her lithographs, comes from her Aboriginal heritage, indicating the natural channel system of small creeks and rivers.