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Gabriella Barunga

Mowanjum Art and Culture Centre

Gabriella commenced as an artist in 1999 at Mowanjum Art and Culture Centre, 10kms south of Derby in the West Kimberley of Western Australia.

Gabriella ‘likes to paint every day. Painting is my work and my way of telling a story. I paint the Wandjina from the Wanalirri mob.’

Gabriella is a Ngarinyin woman. She grew up with her parents Biddy Ambi and Raphael Dolby in at Bungarun, the leprosarium just outside Derby. She was also cared for by Jack and Biddy Dale, ‘they used to take us bush in the holidays. We went fishing and hunting kangaroos, snakes, turtles and crocodiles.’

Gabriella speaks about her father Raphael, ‘he used to play the piano accordion in the Bungarun orchestra. He carved boab nuts too. One time he carved a bullock horn into the shape of a shark. I would like to have it in my house today. He gave it to Prince Charles when he came to Derby.’

Gabriella has visited the caves where the Wandjinas were first painted. ‘I thought these are my ancestors. It’s amazing.’ Gabriella first heard about traditional Law and ancestral stories through her mother and uncles.

Gabriella confides that Gordon her partner ‘helped me paint.’ Why paint? Gabriella replies, ‘Like to keep the Culture going, keep it strong, keep it going for the children and grandchildren.’