Linda Syddick's paintings are inspired by both her traditional nomadic life in the desert and the Tjukurrpa of her father and stepfather, as well as the Christianity she encountered through the Lutheran Mission at Haasts Bluff Mission-run Ration Station in the late 1940’s. Linda was born to a Pitjantjatjara mother, Wanala ‘Lia’ Nangala, from Pulul Rockhole in WA, and Pintupi father Riinytye Tjungurrayi, whose Country was on the shores of Lake Mackay. After Linda’s father was killed by a revenge spearing party when Linda was a toddler, Linda’s mother took Linda east to Walungurru region, around 1940. She grew up in a traditional lifestyle, walking the Central and Western deserts with her family and gaining knowledge of her country.
Wanala married again, Jimina Tjungarrayi Spencer, a man who would later work with Yuendumu men to begin the art movement for Warlpiri painters. Linda says eventually her mother died, and Linda was adopted again, by another Tjungarrayi father, this time Shorty Lungkata Tjungarrayi. Known as a kind man, Short Lungkata raised Linda as his own. Eventually, as a result of terrible drought and increasing pressure from encroaching Europeans, the family journeyed an incredible distance east to reach the raon depot run by the Lutheran Missionaries at Haasts Bluff. About ten years later, in 1960, they travelled north to Papunya, then a Government Reserve.
Shorty Lungkarta Tjungarrayi was one of the last men to join the other artists while living at Papunya, speaking no English at all. As Linda grew up, and before he died, he instructed Linda carefully so she could carry on his work and paint his Tjukurrpa, such as the Emu Dreaming at Warukurritjie Rockhole, the Tingarri Cycles, He painted Blue-Tongue Lizard, Goanna, Bush Banana, Snake and Bandicoot, and the Tjapaltjarri Brothers. Shorty Lungkarta Tjungarrayi became a famous early Western Desert painter until his death in 1986.
A strong-minded and independent woman, Linda recalled her first experience of painting in the Papunya schoolroom. She began painting seriously for Papunya Tula Arsts in the early 1980's under her father’s tutelage. She continued to develop her style under the guidance of some of the other great masters such as her uncles, Nosepeg Tjupurrula and Uta Uta Tjangala. Linda married several times. Her second husband was Musty Syddick [Cedick], also an occasional painter for Papunya Tula Arsts in the 1970's, and although aafter his death Linda married again, she retained Syddick as her last name. She had two daughters, Ruby and Irene. Linda was married to former Melbourne dentist and PhD, Russell Sim for over 25 years, before he passed away. He was a tremendous support to her in documenng her artworks and personal narratives about life in the Western and Central Deserts.
Linda Syddick is an innovator and deeply religious woman, and her paintings reflect an unusual syncretic approach, synthesising both her knowledge of the Tjukurrpa and her staunch Christian beliefs. In 1990 she travelled to Sydney to see her painting Ngkarte Dreaming hung in the annual Blake Prize for Religious Art which was included in a travelling exhibition of thirty seven paintings to tour the eastern states. She has been a finalist for the Blake Prize and Telstra National Aboriginal & Torres Strait Islander Art Award and she won the Painting Category at the 23rd Telstra National Aboriginal & Torres Strait Islander Art Award in 2006.