My Country Sandhills After Sandstorm

Kathleen Petyarr

My Country Sandhills After Sandstorm by Kathleen Petyarr


Kathleen Petyarr
My Country Sandhills After Sandstorm
synthetic polymer on linen
152 x 122 cm

verso: 02J001

Stock Number

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''Utopia Today'',, Rebecca Hossack Gallery, London, 2009

Further Information

This painting is special because Kathleen has chosen to apply a red background rather than her usual yellow ochre, charcoal or white. Red reflects the basic colour of the desert soil of her country ''Atnangkere'', whereas black reflects the colour of skin in the application of body-paint design, and white indirectly links with the white ochre of ceremony decoration and smoky atmosphere. Essentially, however, Kathleen's intent here is a visual contemplation of her country that gives rise to an ethereal mood.

In early summer, the men from Atnangkere would gather to sing for rain. The tail of the monsoon from the tropical north would be felt in the humid north winds. Clouds would start to form on the horizon, and the women would do ''awelye'' (ceremony), where they would 'sing up' those species for which they had custodial responsibilities. Everyone would then live in hopeful anticipation that all elements, both pysical and spiritual, would bring most needed rain.
Kathleen 'sings up' several bush tucker species. The one she has in mind here is a grass seed called ''Ayakere'' the 'pulls off like wheat.'

Kathleen recalls collecting this as a child, and watching the older women, remove the husks and grind the seed to make a dough that would be cooked in the ashes. The dots are an abstract expression of this important staple seed. The lines are simply thicker groves of the grass where more water has gathered along the base of sandhills.

Janet Holt