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Wandjina are ancestral spirits who created country, people and animals in the North West Kimberley before turning themselves into rock paintings. They are sometimes called “lightning man” or “rain maker’ and every year they replenish water holes, creeks and rivers by making the wet season. The Wandjina can be vengeful if people break the law, by making savage storms and cyclones. The predominant white colouring and shape of the Wandjina’s body represents water and clouds. The red pigment area on the chest is the “Tili” (heart) of the Wandjina and represents the “human” part of the Wandjina.

Name: Mercy Fredericks

Language: Ngarinyin

Community: Kalumburu


"I was born here in the Kalumburu convent and my parents grew me up until my mother got sick and couldn’t look after me. I was on the other side of the river with the wild mob and then I moved to the convent and the nuns looked after me. I worked in the bakery making bread, cooking, sewing and I used to milk cows and nanny goats. I left the mission to work for the corporation in 1983. I started working for the aged care program and then for Community Justice and am on the council.”

Mercy began painting and engraving barks in  2009.  She quickly gained recognition for her distinct Wandjina barks and fine textured ochre paintings.  She sadly passed away in 2015 in Kalumburu with her family after a year of fighting cancer and leaves behind six children and three grandchildren.

© the artist / art centre