Peter Skipper was born around 1929 at Payinjarra in Juwaliny country, south of Fitzroy Crossing, in the Great Sandy Desert of Western Australia. He lived the first 25 to 30 years of his life in the bush country of the region, then moved north to the cattle station country of the Southern Kimberleys.
In the late 1960’s, Skipper, who had worked as a fencer and boundary rider for year, moved his family to Fitzroy Crossing. When equal wage determination was bought in, large communities gathered at Fitzroy Crossing as station owners forced their aboriginal employees and associated family members off the stations. It was a community that suffered great emotional and social upheaval. During this period Skipper joined linguistics in a translation of the bible, and the compilation of a Walmajarri–English dictionary. Although a Juwaliny man, Skipper is fluent in Walmajarri, which is the lingua franca of Fitzroy Crossing. He has also written two auto-biographical books about his early life in the bush. Today Skipper lives with his family at Mindi Radi Community at Fitzroy Crossing where he is a man of considerable presence, and an important influence in organising ritual life and maintaining social order.
In 1987, having previously worked on a small scale only, Skipper began painting large works on canvas. The larger canvasses and the availability of a wider range of colours greatly facilitated the development of Skipper’s work. His third painting, Jila Japingka ii 1987 was selected for inclusion in the Dreamings exhibition organized by the Asia Society of New York, in association with the South Australian Museum. Peter Skipper’s work features on page 100 of the related publication Dreaming: The Art of Aboriginal Australia, edited by Peter Sutton.
Peter Skipper uses indigenous design elements that were previously used in body painting incised on pearl shell and wooden artefacts.