Jan grew up in Ilyarra country. There are jila (living water) in this country including Kirriwirri, Dodo, Kurtal and Yukarri. When Jan was young she walked all around these places with her s ‘in living water there is a quiet snake. Sometimes he rises up, but we sing him down sometimes he can travel and bring rain. Ilyarra is my country where I grew up. Lots of tali (sand dunes) and jila in this country. This big dog country.
Curatorial insightJan Billycan is one of the oldest of a group of artists that have emerged from the Bidyadanga community, which is situated south of Broome in the Kimberley region of Western Australia. She is one of the artists who left their homelands in the Great Sandy Desert in the 1960s and relocated to the Bidyadanga community. Through ceremony and song, the artists have kept their relationship to their homelands strong, and in recent years painting has also become significant in the documentation and transference of important cultural knowledge. Billycan’s repeated motif Kirriwirri is prominently featured within all of her paintings and is not only the artist’s birth site but is also a site of cultural significance for her community. (AGWA 2011)