Theresa Numendumah/Arinda

Mowanjum Art and Culture Centre

Theresa first exhibited her work during 2008 at the Cultural Connection exhibition at the Artitia Art Gallery in Perth. She is one of the newest artists working at the Mowanjum Art and Cultural Centre and has exhibited her paintings in Broome, Derby and Mowanjum.

Theresa describes her first days as a painter: “Started painting in the (Mowanjum) hall – I couldn’t paint. Norval (Mark Norval) gave me the canvas. Asked how she leant to paint Theresa replies, “Just watched Mildred to get started”. (Mildred Mungula is an established Mowanjum artist.) “I painted like a little kid then. There are different sorts of pictures to paint. I draw them on the canvas before I paint.”

Theresa uses acrylic on canvas, working in a small to medium scale. Her paintings depict ”wandjinas, unguds, animals, fish, turtles and crocodiles” and gyorns gyorns, “gatherers of food”, representations that by traditional law are only produced by the Mowanjum community.

Ungud (the snake) in traditional storytelling is given to the father or grandfather through dreams or as a living animal and a gift from the Wandjina to the parent. The animal becomes a special gift to the unborn child. When the child dies the spirit returns to the animal. Individuals currently living in the Mowanjum community have their own “animal” totem.

Theresa’s work is distinguished by the use of very brightly coloured backgrounds infused with iridescent vibrancy and on this plane, graphic motifs of traditional stories connect and come alive.

Theresa was born and attended school in Derby. Through her paintings she expresses herself and keeps her cultural inheritance alive. Kirk, Theresa’s second child, has started working with pearl shell and is currently exhibiting a painting at the Mowanjum Art and Cultural Centre.



Group Exhibitions:


2009       Mowanjum Festival – Mowanjum Art and Culture Centre, Derby

2008       Shinju Matsuri Wandjina Budda Budding – Broome 6 Gallery

2008       Kimberley Art Prize – Derby

2008       Mowanjum Festival – Mowanjum Art and Culture Centre

2008    Cultural Connections – Artitja Art Gallery Perth