Kerry McCarthy

Gathering Bush Tucker - Kerry Madawyn McCarthy

Kerry Madawyn McCarthy was born at Nauiyu Nambiyu in 1975. The daughter of an Irish father and Aboriginal mother, and sister of well-known artist, Helen McCarthy Tyalmuty, Kerry was brought up in the Daly River community learning the ways of non-indigenous society, while maintaining a deep respect for and understanding of Aboriginal laws and traditions of her country. Kerry paints because she loves doing it! There is such a strong connection with her grandparents when she is working on her art. This is what she feels most comfortable as an artist and feels that she wouldn’t do anything else, these works have been her passion! Growing up, her father would bring all the children together with large pieces of butcher paper on which they painted for their family – this is something Kerry will always remember of her childhood. This joy has followed Kerry into adulthood so that she still has as much fun painting.
Childhood was spent living a traditional nomadic life as a traditional indigenous person. This was the everyday life for her ancestors – and for thousands of years before. Her true inspiration is Liman, she is blessed to be able to continue to tell his stories and teach them to her children now.

After moving to Darwin in 1985 and completing her schooling, Kerry moved back to the Daly River where she worked in various jobs. In 1994, at the suggestion of her aunt, Kerry started to paint. Originally Kerry pursued the traditional style of Aboriginal artists of the area, which focuses on depictions of animals and plants. However, following completion of her education at Bachelor Institute of Advanced Education, Kerry’s style changed to include subjects more widely associated with Aboriginal tradition. This change was also influenced by her grandfather and by her spending two years in the bush at her mother’s home country at Bulgul, which is a small indigenous community consisting of 10 to 15 simple houses spread along the coast north of the Daly River mouth.  The residents still engage in traditional hunting and gathering activities—each day including fishing, crabbing and gathering of native plants.  Aside from these houses there is no additional infrastructure. Bulgul is about three hour’s drive from Darwin and about one and a half hours from the nearest settlement, Batchelor.

Kerry is both innovative and precise in her work, continually exploring new means of expression of her stories of life and tradition from Aboriginal lands in the Top End. Kerry spends her time with her children between homes in Bulgul and Darwin.

To see more of Kerry’s work or to contact her, go to