Kerry Madawyn McCarthy was born at Nauiyu Nambiyu in 1975. She is the daughter of an Irish father and an Aboriginal mother. She is the sister of well-known artist, Helen McCarthy Tyalmuty. Kerry was brought up in the Daly River community learning the ways of non-indigenous culture while keeping a deep respect for Aboriginal culture and traditions of her country. Kerry loves to paint and she has a strong connection with her grandparents when she is painting. As a young child, her parents will bring the children together with large pieces of butchers’ paper to paint together.
Kerry’s childhood was spent living a traditional nomadic life as a traditional indigenous person. This was the everyday life for her ancestors for thousands of years.
Kerry moved to Darwin in 1985 and completed her schooling before moving back to the Daly River where she worked in various jobs. In 1994 her aunt encouraged her to start painting. She started painting depictions of animals and plants which was the style of her of the Aboriginal artists in her area. When Kerry completed her education at Bachelor Institute of Advanced Education, Kerry’s style changed to include subjects more widely associated with Aboriginal tradition. This style was influenced by her grandfather and her time spent in the bush at her mother’s home country at Bulgul. Bulgul is a small indigenous community consisting of 10 – 15 houses spread along the coast north of the Daly River mouth. The residents still hunt, gather bush foods, fish and go crabbing in the traditional way. Bulgul is a 3 hour drive from Darwin.
Kerry is creative and precise in her paintings and continually explores new ways of expressing her stories. Her paintings feature fine line work with intricate detail in black & white and rich colours. She spends her time with her children between homes in Bulgul and Darwin.