Carlene West Tells the Story of Two Women

Carlene West, Tjitjitji, 2015. Synthetic polymer paint on canvas

“These paintings represent my country of Tjitjiti, a large salt lake. It is the site of the creation story of Two Women. This story involves Two Women walking across the big salt lake with a child when they are called by a stranger, a Quoll Man, to hand over the child. The two ladies make a run for it but the Quoll Man threw a spear and impaled the two women together and then killed the child. This is a sad story. Those two women can still be seen today standing at Tjitjiti.” –Carlene West

This work is on view in Marking the Infinite: Contemporary Women Artists from Aboriginal Australia through September 9, 2018.

Meet the Marking the Infinite Artists: Lena Yarinkura

In this series, we introduce the nine artists behind Marking the Infinite: Contemporary Women Artists from Aboriginal Australia, on view at The Phillips Collection June 2–September 9, 2018.

Installation view of works by Lena Yarinkura in Marking the Infinite. Photo: Lee Stalsworth

Born 1961, Maningrida, Northern Territory
Lives and works in Maningrida, Northern Territory

detail of Lena Yarinkura’s “Spider”

The daughter of renowned weaver Lena Djamarrayku, Lena Yarinkura is a great fiber art innovator in the Arnhem Land region where she resides at an outstation on her mother’s country close to the Aboriginal community of Maningrida, home to more than 15 different Aboriginal language groups. She is part of the community-based Aboriginal arts cooperative Maningrida Arts and Culture. Yarinkura’s work has had a profound influence on artists throughout the region, winning acclaim at the National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Art Awards in 1994 and 1997. She is represented in most important collections in Australia, including the National Gallery of Australia, Canberra; and the Art Gallery of New South Wales, Sydney.

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.