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Emily Kame Kngwarreye

Yam Dreaming

synthetic polymer paint on linen
91.0 x 121.5 cm
EST. $35,000 - $45,000

MP #266


Robert Steel Gallery, NY, USA Cat No. IFT-EK47
Private Collection, USA


Cf. For stylistically similar works see: 'Wild Yam I, 1995' in Janet Holt (et. al. ), 'Emily Kngwarreye Paintings, Craftsman House, 1998, plate 70 illus. pp 166-167 and various other works pp 168-180. And the cover image of the Retrospective catalogue 'Emily Kngwarreye, Alhalkere Paintingss from Utopia, Margo Neale (ed), Queensland Art Gallery, 1998

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 on canvass, which were created, most familiarly, in a vast array of vibrant colours. In this paintings on canvas 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 canvass on canvas when in her late 70s. She was awarded the Australian Creative Fellowship in 1992 and continued paintings on canvas prolifically until her death in 1996.