Doris was born in 1946 at Maningrida, an Aboriginal community town in Arnhem Land in the Northern Territory. Her tribal group is Barada and she spent her childhood in the traditional way with her parents and her tribe, hunting and gathering.
Twice she was taken by the Mimi spirits and put into a tree to be taught about basket and net making. Mimi are important figures in the cultures of Arnhem Land, and are often depicted in bark paintings as long thin humans. They can only be glimpsed in dreams or the half light, and make themselves fully present only to 'doctors', the clever people of the tribe. Doris's capture indicates the importance of these spirits in the cultural life of Aborigines. Knowledge is not so much achieved by individuals as conceived in the Dreaming and passed on from generation to generation.
This is how she tells the story: Djunuwiny is a sacred place to me, this is the place where spirits came to get me when I was a little girl. My parents were looking for me and call my name. When spirits heard this they put me on the beach so my parents could see me. Dad got some green ants and put them around me so I could wake up, then I was all right and my parents did not worry anymore when I went a little bit far away because they knew spirits were looking after me.
Later she went to school in Darwin, living there and going back to visit her family at Maningrida during the holidays. After Cyclone Tracy hit Darwin in 1974, Doris moved to Perth, Geraldton and finally Mount Magnet in Western Australia, where she now lives with her French-born husband Danny.
It was after moving to Mount Magnet that she started drawing, initially for fun and to pass the time. Her inspiration is from everyday life, her childhood in Arnhem Land, and from things she sees around her, mostly to do with nature - plants, flowers, rocks and animals. Doris has visited France several times, but her work still draws on the countryside around Mount Magnet.
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