Ladner + Fell, Melbourne
Private collection, Vic
Cooee Art, NSW
During the Dreaming, digging sticks (Kana) magically emerged from the land at Mina Mina equiping a large number of ancestral women for their travels over a vast stretch of Warlpiri country. The tall desert oaks (Kurrkapi) ,which grow near Mina Mina, symbolise the emergence of these sacred objects that literally rose up from beneath the ground itself during this formative period. To this day they are thought of as both the living embodyment of those digging sticks as well as the lithe, upright young women who were amongst their bearers. As the women danced their way across the desert in joyous exultation they clutched the digging sticks in their outstetched hands.
Dancing in a long line they created important sites and encountered other Dreamings. Hundereds of these women travelled on the long journey toward the east, then to the north, then south collecting plants and foods with both medicinal and ceremonial uses. They visted many sites, resting at some, going underground at others, and later re-emerging or morphing in to different, sometimes malevolent beings. These powerful ancestral women were involved in initiation ceremonies and used human hair string spun and rubbed with special red ochre and fat as part of their magic.
This is a major painting by Maggie Watson, whose finest works were created during this period. She painted only occasional works for the art centre at Yuendumu where she lived. Most of her major works were painted for Peter Van Groessen, her son-in-law, between 1995 and her death in 2004. However, for a period in the early 1990’s prior to producing major works for him, she painted for several people including Neil McLeod, who travelled through Yuendumu regularly on his way to the Kimberely to work with Rover Thomas and his contemporaries. This work was painted for McLeod at that time after he left the canvas and paint with the artist and collected it on his return journey. This may account for the slightly muteShare