Julie Dowling was born in Subiaco, Western Australia.
Growing up in both semi-rural and urban areas in a large extended family of Nyoongar and Badimaya people.
Working in a social realist style, Dowling draws on diverse art traditions including European portraiture and Christian icons, mural painting, dotting and Indigenous Australian iconography.
Dowling works like an ethnographer, recording the deep-seated injustices in the Indigenous community. Her pictorial works have a strong political edge, however, she speaks as a colonised subject and subverts the traditional power relations between the observer and the observed, the coloniser and the colonised.
She was awarded a Diploma of Fine Art at Claremont School of Art in 1989, a Bachelor of Fine Arts at Curtin University in 1992, an Associate Diploma in Visual Arts Management at Perth Metropolitan TAFE in 1995 and Honorary Doctorate in Literature (Painting) from Murdoch University 2002.
Since her first solo exhibition at Fremantle Arts Centre in 1995, Dowling has earned a substantial national and international reputation as an artist of extraordinary vision.
Her work has been exhibited extensively in Australia and overseas, notably at Art Fair Cologne in 1997, Beyond the Pale: Contemporary Indigenous Art, 2000 Adelaide Biennial of Australian Art, and the RAKA AWARD: Places that name us, ‘Strange Fruit’ a retrospective of 15 years at The Potter Museum of Art, Melbourne, 2003.