Edward Blitner was born in southern Arnhem Land in 1961. His bush name is Taiita and he is from the Ngukurr Community (now called Yugul Mangl) in Naiyarlindji country on the Roper River, approximately 270 km south-east of Katherine in the Northern Territory.
Later Edward Blitner attended school at Concordia College in Adelaide until he was sixteen. When he returned to the north as a young man he worked as a stockman and general hand on Victoria River Downs. Edward Blitner was at the Gurindji walkout when he was a youth, and has mixed with all of the language groups who populate the Northern Australian country from Roper River to Kununurra. This part of the country remained home for the next thirty years. Edward Blitner has also lived for periods of time at Katherine, Victoria River, Kununurra and Broome.
Edward Blitner started painting when he was seven, learning from his grandfather who painted with natural ochres on bark. He says of this time, “My grandfather would be painting on bark and we kids would sit around him and watch him grind the ochres and mix the colours. After a while he would tell us the story for that particular painting and also teach us the songs and dance for that story. When he was in a very good mood, he let us paint the sides of the bark painting. That was my start.”
It has taken Edward Blitner many years to learn to paint the stories and the Dreamings passed on to him by his grandfather. He is also an accomplished woodcarver. Some of his bird carvings stand two meters high and are fully decorated and cross-hatched. The detailed cross-hatching forms part of the paintings and carvings, and is from the artist’s clan design. Edward Blitner uses the styles and subject matter of his traditional country in southern Arnhemland. He maintains the palette of natural ochre colours he usually adopts for the traditional patterning of cross-hatching referred to as rarrk.