Bush Plum, Rat tail plant and Mulga Seed - Alvira Bird Mpetyane
Mainie Australi - Bush Plum, Rat tail plant and Mulga Seed
Artwork Name: Awelye for Ahayeke (bush plum) Alpar and Ntang Artety(mulga seed)
Artist: Alvira Bird Mpetyane
Size: 120cm x 90cm loose canvas
The linear designs in Alvira’s painting represents awelye (women’s ceremony and body paint designs) for Ahakeye, Alpar and Ntang Artety. These designs are painted onto the chest breast, arms, and thighs. Powders ground from red and yellow ochre (clays), charcoal and ash are used as body paint and applied with a flat stick with soft padding. The women, represent by the ‘U’ shaped motifs, sing the songs associated with their awelye as each woman takes her turn to be ‘painted-up’.
In this painting Alvira’s use of black dots symbolises the ahakeye when they are ripe and ready to be collected. White dots represent the seeds of alpar. Yellow dots represent ntang artety.
Ahakeye, called bush plum in English by Alvira, is also known as native currant or citrus. It belongs to the canthium attenuatum shrub which grows about 3m high. This shrub produces small white flowers, deep green citrus like leaves and the ahakeye which are black when ripe and very small. This fruit is favoured for its sweet taste and can be reconstituted in water if dry.