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Jack Wherra


Ngarinyin artist and elder Jack Wherra, was renowned throughout the Kimberley as a tracker, before spending eighteen years in jail where he taught himself to carve boab nuts. According to one report, Jack used a three inch nail and pieces of broken glass to create these works as pocket knives were forbidden to him in the Broome Regional Prison from which he was released in early 1964. In this dynamic painting, Jack depicts the Wandjina, the embodiment of the rain spirit and ancestor of the Wonnambal, Ngarinyin, and Worrora peoples of the North West Kimberley. This powerful fertility figure appears as if painted on the wall of a cave in the plateau region of the North Kimberley coast.

The frontal aspect is unadorned other than with bands of body paint. The face has no features other than its large black eyes and a luminous white outline. The background is splattered with white ochre as if it were spat out of the mouth, creating the image as a silhouette on the brown ground.

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Aboriginal Art (991)