Theresa Walker
Kartamiru (first born male), also known as Murlawirrapurka, King John and Onkaparinga Jack of South Australia

Gallery 2

About this work of art

Audio description of the work of art

Kertamaroo, a Native of South Australia, and Mocatta, commonly known as Pretty Mary, a native of South Australia were created by Theresa Walker in around 1840 in Adelaide, South Australia.

Each of these two paired works consist of a white wax circular medallion featuring a sculpted portrait 9.2cm in diameter mounted behind glass in matching decorative frames 19.8cm square.

They are sculpted portraits of Kertamaroo, an Aboriginal man, and Mocatta an Aboriginal woman. They are depicted in side-profile, showing only the left side of their head and left shoulder. Centrally positioned, their torsos and arms are cropped at the bottom edge of the medallions.

Carved from white wax, the medallions have been created using the bas-relief technique in a classical portraiture style similar to the sculpted surface of a coin or sports medal. The detail-less background is flat, with the portrait itself raised up and moulded in three-dimensions – in these examples less than a centimetre in depth. Due to the shadows appearing under the brow, nose and chin, the portraits deceptively appear to have greater depth.

Kertamaroo has short curly hair and he wears a high collared loose shirt. He has a curling beard along his jaw line and under his chin, however his upper cheek, upper lip, and chin are hairless.

Mocatta has short wavy hair and wears a headband, two narrow simple lengths encircling her head. Fabric is wrapped around her upper torso and over her right shoulder, it folds across her chest and upper back, her left shoulder is bare. Appearing behind Mocatta is a long narrow pole, an Aboriginal woman’s digging stick, diagonally positioned it leans against her right shoulder.

The artist has created the curls and waves of hair in both portraits as simplified rounded moulded forms, rather than detailing the hair with fine lines.

Each medallion is mounted centrally in a brown wood frame behind a circle of glass. The square frames are covered with brown velvet, with carved decorative wooden forms placed on top of the velvet. Curving hook-like wooden shapes combine to form the petals and stamen of a simplified flower, mirrored and repeated in the four corners, the design encircles and points inwards to the medallion.