Ada Parry

Australian Aboriginal Artist

Ada is the sister of world renowned artists Martina Parry and Regina Wilson.

Ada Wilmadder Parry

Born:          	6/12/1955 
State:        	NT 
Region:    	Daly / Wadeye 
Community: 	Daly River / Wadeye [Port Keats]
Outstation: 	Woodygupildiyerre 
Language: 	Marrithiyel 
Local group:    Nungari

Medium: Acrylic paint on canvas
Subjects: Turtle, Fish, Waterlily, bushtuckers

1988, Karen Brown Gallery, Darwin NT
1988, the Fifth National Aboriginal Art Award Exhibition, Museum and Art Gallery of the Northern Territory, Darwin
1989, the Sixth National Aboriginal Art Award Exhibition, Museum and Art Gallery of the Northern Territory, Darwin

Ada Parry was born in 1955, in the Daly River region of the Northern Territory. Her homeland, Wudikapildiyerr is situated amid wetlands and floodplains west of the Daly River Aboriginal Reserve around 300 kilometres south-west of Darwin. The subject matter of Ada's works is based around her country, food gathering and the practice of weaving fibre art, and stems directly from her experiences of living in the bush.

The scale of her works allow for a multitude of experiences from that of an up-close encounter with the fascinating craftsmanship of weaving to a long distance view depicting her country and allowing for this intricacy to be seen in a more contextual sense. It is this transient quality that renders the visual experience of Ada's work so unique and captivating.

Ada's aesthetic is representative of the emergence of a new contemporary wave from the region. The works are at once fresh with the sophisticated integrity of a grand tradition, but are imbued with a new sense of freedom. This characteristic of her paintings makes her work readily palatable as her unique visual language has a universal beauty that can be appreciated by Indigenous and Contemporary art lovers alike.

Ada is the sister of world renowned artists Martina Parry and Regina Wilson.

My personal research story

My name is Ada Wilmadda Parry. I was born on the banks of the Daly River, delivered by two of my grandmothers. On my father's side . I am Brinkin and my language is Marrithiel. My mother was Ngangikurrungurr. My country is Woodygupildiyerre, where my brothers live with their families. My mother taught me my language, and Ngangikurrungurr, her language, and my culture. I have lived in Darwin since 1985. I have a husband, three children, eleven grand children, and three dogs.

I want to share my story, of working in main stream health & research - what it has meant and still means to me - in the hope that it may change attitudes towards my family and other Aboriginal people.

In 1993, I was introduced to the world of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander research. I knew we had the worst health statistics for everything, but it didn't make an impact until then. For three years I worked in research and hearing of the different study results made me feel helpless, especially experiencing these illnesses within my own family. I felt devastated and overwhelmed by the number of health problems we have , many times I cried at presentations. Most presenters didn't realise how this information affected me and other Aboriginal people that I worked with. When I told the people I worked closely with, they didn't know how to deal with my sadness, maybe they didn't realise it was a real thing to me. They would listen, show empathy, but get on with their work. After three years of feeling useless and like I couldn't do anything about our health, I left.

My next job was to share my Aboriginal cultural knowledge, taught to me by my grandmothers and mothers, with General Practitioners. I worked with, medical students and GP registrars who wanted to experience the Territory and work in Aboriginal health settings. Although I'd heard about the diseases we live with, I managed to put my sadness aside, because my family and other Aboriginal people were being treated. That was the difference in my job and I felt useful again.

Now years down the track, I have returned to the world of research. I was scared of having the sadness come back to me, but now I see research differently. I have been busy learning from new colleagues. I am learning the research language, how to begin a research program, how to write a submission, develop flip charts, and give comments - back to the drawing board and hair pulling stuff!! There is no time be sad, just a determination to get things right, recruit people and deliver the message, and hope that those who agree to be part of this program will take note and do the right thing by themselves, their children and families.

During all this time colleagues are patiently answering my many questions of 'why' and 'how', taking time for me to see and understand, then ask more questions when I hear something new - like how a virus can have something like Velcro on its surface so it sticks itself to a gut wall and pulls itself inside the gut and does damage that makes children weak, vomiting and defecating all over the place, then ending up in hospital for some time.

Although we still have the highest rate of sickness and it seems like we are stuck in this rut forever, there is 'hope', the hope that one day, my family to come, will enjoy living healthy long lives. There is still so much research being done and so much research still to do, but I realise it is helping. So, for me there is that little light at the end of the tunnel and hopefully over time it'll grow bigger, and in time we will have healthy lives like other Australians