Dacou Gallery, Vic
Private Collection, NSW
The subject of this work is Arlatyeye, the Pencil Yam or Bush Potato. This is a valuable food source and the subject of important songs, dances and ceremonies amongst Eastern Anmatjerre people. It was the subject of a great number of Emily Kngwarreye’s paintings, which were created, most familiarly, in a vast array of vibrant colours. In this painting however, Emily has characterised the roots of the yam in the plant’s full period of maturity. As the foliage dies off, cracks appear in the ground, which trace the root system, and indicate that the engorged tubers are ready to be dug up and eaten. Solid lines, stark and unadorned, trace the meandering paths of the pencil yam roots as they forge their way through the desert sands. Arguably the most important of these works is the monumental Big Yam Dreaming 1995 (8 x 3m) in the National Gallery of Victoria. Painted entirely in white on a black ground, it has been described as the ‘perfect bridge between Aboriginal art and contemporary international art’.
Emily Kame Kngwarreye was born at Anilitye (Boundary Bore) and began paintings on canvas when in her late 70s. She was awarded the Australian Creative Fellowship in 1992 and continued painting prolifically until her death in 1996.Share