Mai (Bush Tucker)
Mai (Bush Tucker)

Nellie Patterson Profile & Artworks

Mai (Bush Tucker)

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Paintings depict the Tjukurpa, the Law and stories of Ancestors. Anangu (Central and Western Desert Aboriginal people) have responsibilities for the protection and teaching of different Tjukurpa and there are strict protocols for the imparting of knowledge. The dotting technique has evolved with the need to adapt sacred expressions of Tjukurpa for public viewing and as a depiction of the desert landscape.

Collecting mai or plant foods and other desert foods is important work and ritual for women as well as a major theme in paintings. Minyma tjuta (senior women) travel their country with their tools: piti, or wooden bowl and wana, digging stick. They collect mai that includes kampurarpa, arnguli, mangata, munu unturngu, (bush tomato, plum, quandong and bush banana). The women are also responsible for collecting water from the rockholes, soaks and creek beds, transporting it back to camp in the bowls balanced skilfully on their heads.

Nellie has painted four minyma with their wana and a man seated nearby with two kali or boomerang and a tjutinypa, club. There are also maku, witchetty grubs and tinkaku ngampu, goanna eggs. 

Behind these foods are their Creation or Law stories which code a wealth of knowledge used not only to hunt and survive but to live in social harmony as well. Paintings are a contemporary way of continuing to celebrate and teach through the Tjukurpa.


Artist: Nellie Patterson

Size: 87cm X 47cm

Medium: Acrylic on canvas

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