Vanessa was born in 1968 at Hermannsburg, a mission established by German Lutheran missionaries at the end of the 19th century. Vanessa’s grandmother’s brother is Albert Namatjira and she is the niece of award winning artist Ivy Pareroultja’s.
Vanessa currently lives in Alice Springs and paints in the watercolour tradition. She paints the landscape of her ancestors, which is also the country she belongs to.
In her late 20s Vanessa married Fabien, an Eastern Arrernte man, and moved to Santa Teresa, some 80 km South-West of Alice Springs. Though Vanessa was already a skilled artist, she learnt and adopted a new artistic style specific to Santa Teresa, in which she paints spiritual women. The spiritual women who are the subjects of Vanessa’s work are guardians of the land and remain invisible most of the time. Often, they look after a network of waterholes alongside the riverbed. If intruders come stealing some of the country resources such as bush tucker or water, the spiritual women will come out and the offenders will disappear forever.