Language Group: Anmatyerre
Country: Ilkawerne, Utopia Region, North East of Alice Springs
Medium: Acrylic on Canvas and Linen
Subjects: Ahakeye (Bush Plum), Alpar (Rat-tail Plant), Awelye (Women's Ceremony and Body Paint Designs), Ayara Seed
Tanya is the daughter of artists Paddy Bird (deceased) and Eileen Bird. Her grandmother is the late Ada Bird Petyarre, a highly respected senior artist from Utopia. Tanya grew up surrounded by the habitual routine of painting and first began painting herself as an early teenager. Ada, who passed away in 2009, was a strong influence in this; Tanya was very close to her grandmother. In 2010, Tanya began using black, grey and white designs to depict her subjects.
Mbantua Gallery Permanent Collection, Alice Springs
|2013||Finalist The 30th Telstra National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Art Award (NATSIAA)|
The linear designs in Tanya's painting represent Awelye (Women's Ceremony and Body Paint Designs) for the Ahakeye (Bush Plum). These designs are painted onto the chest, breasts, arms and thighs. Powders ground from red and yellow ochre (clays), charcoal and ash are used as body paint and applied with a flat stick with soft padding. The women sing the songs associated with their Awelye as each woman takes her turn to be 'painted-up'.
The ahakeye, called bush plum in English by Tanya, is also known as the native currant or citrus. It belongs to the canthium attenuatum shrub which grows about 3m high. This shrub produces small white flowers, deep green citrus-like leaves and the ahakeye which are black when ripe and very small. This fruit is favoured for its sweet taste and can be reconstituted in water if dry. In this painting, the dot work represents the fruit of the bush plum.