Bessie Malarvie was born 1st April 1958 at Kirkimbie Station in the Northern Territory. She is of Jaru (desert) skin. Bessie attended school at Halls Creek, however at age 13 was promised bride to a man living on Nicholson Station, adjoining Kirkimbie.
She therefore had to cease her schooling and lived on Nicholson, carrying out domestic duties for the Manager, Len Hill. She says, as does International Artist Jock Mosquito who was head stockman on Nicholson and with whom Bessie grew up, that Len was a great person, she enjoyed working for him and learnt a lot.
Bessie then moved for a short time to Mistake Creek Station, eventually relocating with her sister, artist Kitten Malarvie to Kununurra in 1977. Both Bessie and Kitten recall the very early days of the fledgling town of Kununurra when there “wasn’t much here” and they both carved boab nuts and made artefacts for their bread, tea and sugar.
Bessie had no children of her own, but has brought up many nieces and nephews. She is a desert-bred lady painting in ochre the stories of her land, which focuses on the important women’s ceremonies, the stations where she lived and worked, the harsh desert climate, the colours of her country, the bush tucker and bush medicine still important in her life.