Barney was born around 1939 in the Minyerri region of the Northern Territory. Barney is a senior law-man amongst the Alawa community. Alawa people live on the upper reaches of the Cox and Arnold rivers, south of the Roper River and west of the Gulf of Carpentaria.
Barney paints in a style where each line represents a different aspect of his country. This style of painting can also be seen in the ancient rock art paintings throughout Alawa country.
In a recent catalogue description (Alcaston Gallery), Ellaga's paintings are described as "pure abstract works created with brilliant saturated colours, created with a special brush technique, and confident compositions. He combines imbalance with balance, beautiful harmony with stark contrasts to create works of great impact and power."
After the considerable success of Ginger Riley from the Ngukurr community on Roper River there is a new wave of artists emerging from the region. By winning the Telstra Art Award and through a series of high profile exhibitions, Ginger Riley set new directions for Aboriginal art through his use of bright, bold primary colours in sweeping landscapes which captured not only the country around Ngukurr but also the spirits residing there.
Barney Ellaga has continued in this colourful style along with accomplished artists Gertie Huddleston and her sister Angelina George. His work is sought after internationally and nationally. He has held several successful solo exhibitions and his work is represented in a number of major Australian public and private galleries or collections.