Women Collecting Merne Awele Awele (Wild Tomatoes) MB050505-Marie Ryder

Acrylic on Canvas
45 x 45cm
Year Painted


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Women Collecting Merne Awele Awele (Wild Tomatoes) MB050505-Marie Ryder

Marie paints women collecting merne awele awele, known as the wild tomato or gooseberry (Solanum ellipticum). Merne means food in Marie's language and awele awele is the tomato. The clonal sub-shrub of the awele awele grows most commonly on foothills and lower hill slopes throughout Central Australia. It produces beautiful purple flowers and velvety grey or bluish-green leaves. Drought resistant it can produce tomatoes when the weather is dry, but the tomatoes are produced in abundance during good moisture conditions. The tomatoes are a traditional staple food of the Central desert aboriginals. Once collected, the Aboriginal people eat the tomatoes raw or put them in the hot earth by the fire, sprinkle water on top and cook them.

Marie illustrates the purple flowers that are in bloom and the tomatoes when they are ready to be collected. Women, represented by the 'U' motifs, are shown collecting this fruit. They carry with them their digging sticks and coolamons (carved wooden bowls) which are typical instruments used for collecting many bush foods. The concentric circles represent the sites where the tomatoes are being collected. The footprints that the women leave in the sand can also be seen; a trademark depiction often featured in Marie's paintings. Marie likes to use traditional ochre colours in the background design to reflect the rich sand hill country of Central Australia.
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Located at
Mbantua Alice Gallery (MGA)