Artist: Maggie Bird Mpetyane
Size: 30 x 30cm
Med: Acrylic on Canvas
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Maggie’s painting illustrates groups of women preparing for awelye – women’s ceremony. Women represented by U motifs grind the sacred ochre (clays) into a fine powder and blend with water and animal fats to produce body paint. The senior women paint the breasts, chest, and shoulders of the younger women using a typale – a stick that has been fashioned into a type of paint brush then they retrace their work with their fingers. As they paint they sing the songs and tell the stories of the dreamtime.
The story for Maggie’s awelye – women’s ceremony, is for the alpar – the rattail plant which belongs to her father’s country Ilkawerne. Alpar is an herbaceous plant valued for it’s abundance of tiny black edible seeds. These seeds also have medicinal properties. The traditional colour combination for this awelye is ochre red, yellow and white.