Donny Woolagoodja was born into a large family at Kunmunya Mission on the remote NW Kimberley coast in 1947. His father was renowned lawman Sam Woolagoodja, who some say was the last great man of power of the Wororra people. As a child, Donny moved with his family to Mowanjum, near Derby. Donny was educated in two worlds, understanding the white world of the mission and deeply upholding the traditional beliefs of his people. Donny worked on boats and, after his father's death in 1979, took responsibility for the land and for passing on the traditions of his culture. He became active in the pursuit of native title, and continues this work today.
Donny used to watch his elders paint the Wandjinas on bark and boards and he learned the stories of Lai Lai (creation). Soon after he began to paint, Donny became one of the foremost artists of Mowanjum. He has maintained his strong connection to Wororra country, living for long periods at Cone Bay, visiting and looking after Wandjina sites, and teaching new generations.
Courtesy of Mowanjum Aboriginal Art & Culture Centre