Artist from Kalumburu in Western Australia's Kimberley region, Mercy is noted for her ochre paintings of Wandjina & Kimberley traditional images. Paintings available for sale by enquiry.
Mercy Fredericks (1956 – 2015) was born Mercy Peumorra into a family of 7 children in Kalumburu. She was taught in the Benedictine mission by the nuns. She says: “In those days most of the nuns were my teachers till year 11. School was good, yeah. I always fished when I was a child –we’d Camp at Marragarra beach for two weeks or at Christmas time for three months – we didn’t hurry back from there. We catch brim, barramundi, shark, dorrinyay (cobbler), salmon, trevelli, sometimes snapper.”
Later Mercy Fredericks “worked mostly in the mission – bread-making, cooking with the nuns. Father Sanz was in charge of the mission then. When it became independent in 1981 then I worked in the office.”
Mercy Fredericks married in her early twenties and had six children, three boys and three girls. Her husband died in 2000 – “ too young, health problems.” Mercy Fredericks began painting in 2009 with other senior women in Kalumburu. “My parents didn’t paint – they made spears and artefacts. Father carved boab nuts sometimes in Derby.”
About painting, Mercy Fredericks says: “Sometimes you draw it just from your mind, you know. Because in the olden days I have been seeing the old people how they draw and make the art look. It wasn’t the Bradshaws figures (gwion gwion) then, they said – that’s not our art. Those old people painted Wandjina. They used to do bush bucket, coolamon, baby cradle – they used to paint on them. They used the Leichhardt tree to carve coolamons and shields.
“When I was a kid I lived in the bush, grew up in the bush – I’ve seen a lot of rock art. To us rock art was something just there, we didn’t bother about it. Then Mrs Macha said – you can paint these. When the old people started painting a long time ago, they made it all the time, just for their use, they didn’t sell them.”
Mercy Fredericks says of the numerous rock art sites that spread from the King Edward River at Kalumburu through to the coast – “People walked that way for thousands of years, from upriver at Kalumburu to the coast. That’s like a book. Stone country all the way and rock paintings all through that country.”