Lily Karadada was born circa 1937 in the bush at Ann River. She fondly refers to her place of birth as 'My Country'. Her father passed away when she was very young. Lily returned to paint in Kulumbaru, where her story, the Wandjina, was told to her by her mother.
Lily Karadada regularly includes other totemic animals associated with her country, into her paintings.
Still painting occasionally well into her 80s, Lily has become closely associated with the Wandjina and Gwion Gwion painting tradition of Kalumburu. The area where Lily Karadada was born, around the Mitchell Plateau, is rich with the ancient rock art sites depicting Wandjina and the more ancient Gwion Gwion totemic figures.
Lily Karadada has painted using the traditional ochre pigments on a range of materials – on bark and on canvas, on wooden artefacts and traditional bark buckets and water carriers. She has been a significant representative of her culture and her legacy is carried on by other members of her family group.
About the artwork:
This painting is a representation of slender, elegant human forms, termed ‘Bradshaw figures’ after the explorer Joseph Bradshaw discovered them in 1871. Present indigenous people of the Kimberley refer to ‘Bradshaw’ art as ‘Gwion’ or ‘Gwion Gwions’. They believe it was the mythological cave bird, Gwion, whose blood covered beak wiped the stone and so created the paintings, which overtime were imitated by human artists as they moved across the land. These figures went through different stages in their form; from slender beings with little to no head-dresses; to the long, elongated beings with visible headdresses dancing as they hunt for food (as seen in this artwork); to large, soldier-like figures that appear stagnant and express little movement.