• Dhapi Ceremony
  • Dhapi Ceremony
  • Dhapi Ceremony
  • Dhapi Ceremony

Wally Wilfred

Dhapi Ceremony

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"This is showing the little boys getting painted for the circumcision ceremony. We call it Dhapi. They stand over the fire and it burns their feet, knees, hands and mouth. It teaches them not to steal or swear, and to show respect to girls. It puts them on the right track. It's how the young boys learn about respect. This is my grandfather's design." – Wally Wilfred

  • Acrylic paint on paper
  • 76 x 56 cm
  • Cat No: 110-23

Wally Wilfred is a Wägilak man. His skin name is Wamut and his country is Ŋilipidji, near Blue Mud Bay. He was born at Mountain Valley, and he walked, ḻukudhu (on foot), with his family from there to Ngukurr and Numbulwar.

Since 2003, Wally Wilfred has been associated with Ngukurr Art Centre. Developing a unique style, Wally brings together traditional techniques with bold and contemporary use of colour. Continuing in the footsteps of his grandfather Sambo Barra Barra, Wally’s work explores traditional and present day culture with history and storytelling.

Wally paints on paper, ŋaḏan (bark) and dharpa (wood). He makes cultural artefacts from dubal (Leichhardt tree) and bulgut (kurrajong). He is also a keen sculptor, working with wood and found objects. Wally’s sculptures continue in the same path as his paintings. They tell stories, sometimes about culture, sometimes about the effect the munanga (white fella) have had on his people and country since they first arrived with their poisons; sugar, tobacco and beer.


Ngukurr Art Centre sits a stone’s throw from the banks of the Roper River in Ngukurr, South East Arnhem Land. The Art Centre, like the town of Ngukurr, is unique – bringing together people of many different clans and language groups including Ngalakgan, Alawa, Mangarrayi, Ngandi, Marra, Warndarrang, Nunggubuyu, Ritharrngu-Wägilak and Rembarrnga. Together these clans are known as Yugul Mangi.

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Items purchased online that are part of an exhibition will be shipped at the end of the exhibition period.