Angelina Pwerle’s Bush Plums

Angelina Pwerle’s “Bush Plum” in Marking the Infinite

Detail of Angelina Pwerle’s “Bush Plum”

“This painting is about my father’s country and about arnwekety [bush plum]. The flowers are there, the little bush plum flowers. That bush plum is my father’s Dreaming. That bush plum comes from Ahalpere country. It has little white flowers, then after that there is the fruit. If it doesn’t rain, the plants are dry; if it rains there is an abundance of bush plums. The flower is small when they have just come out…well, after that the fruit comes. The fruits are really nice when they are ripe.” – Angelina Pwerle

Angelina Pwerle’s paintings deal with many themes, the best known being the bush plum (arnwekety). The plant’s seasonal colors dominate the ground flora of Ahalpere country, and women collect its small berries which may be eaten fresh, dried, or mixed into paste. The bush plum is an Altyerr (Dreaming) that Pwerle inherited from her father. Its story is crucial to local women’s ceremonies and intricately intertwined with the songlines of the whole country. Closely associated with the sacredness of Ahalpere country, the narrative speaks not only of physical nourishment but also spiritual sustenance. Pwerle depicts the bush plum as a shimmering constellation of dots, creating grand tapestry like canvases that suggest the profound connection between the individual and the universal.

These works are on view in Marking the Infinite: Contemporary Women Artists from Aboriginal Australia through September 9, 2018.

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