Women Collecting Bush Tucker MB056879-Nikita Inkamala

Acrylic on Canvas
120 x 60cm
Year Painted


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Women Collecting Bush Tucker MB056879-Nikita Inkamala

Nikita paints women collecting bush tucker, including akatyerre (desert raisin), anaty (desert yam), bush bananas, bush beans and witchetty grubs.

The akatyerre, also known as the desert raisin, wild sultana or bush tomato (Solanum centrale), is probably the most important of all Central Australian plant foods due to its abundance and widespread availability most of the year. Once collected, the Aboriginal people eat the akatyerre raw or grind them into a paste before being consumed. The paste can also be rolled into balls and dried to store during long periods of drought. This practice is not as habitual now but ceremonies relating to its story are. Yellow ones are ripe and ready to eat and green ones are still young.

The Anaty (desert yam) grows underground with its viny shrub growing above ground up to 1 metre high. It is normally found on spinifex sand plains and produces large pink flowers after summer rain. The anaty is a tuber, or swollen root, of the shrub and tastes much like the common sweet potato. It can be eaten raw or cooked and is still a staple food for the desert aborigines where it can be harvested at any time of the year. Some can be found as big as a person's head.

Witchetty grubs are large tasty grubs that live in the numerous shallow roots of the witchetty bush (Acacia kempeana). They are a most important food source. To collect the grubs the aboriginal people dig at the base of the witchetty bush until they strike a root. Any swollen roots are levered up as it is a good sign there is a witchetty grub inside. Care is taken when breaking open the root so that the grub is not injured. If it is, the grub is usually eaten immediately. If not, the grubs are normally lightly roasted in coals before being consumed.

Women, represented by 'U' motifs, are collecting these foods. They carry with them digging sticks which are typical instruments used for collecting many bush foods.

Linear designs represent Awelye (Women's Ceremony and Body Paint Designs). 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. They call this stick 'typale'. The women sing the songs associated with their Awelye as each woman takes her turn to be 'painted-up'.

Nikita also paintes bush medicine and beautiful bush flowers. Background dotting represents her country, Hermannsburg.

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Located at
Mbantua Alice Gallery (MGA)