Language Group: Alyawarre
Country: Arawerre , Utopia Region, North East of Alice Springs
Medium: Acrylic on Canvas and Linen
Subjects: Irreyakwerre (Wild Onion) Dreaming, Bush Flowers, Country, Women Collecting Bush Foods, Waterhole, Awelye (Women's Ceremony and Body Paint Designs)
Carmen Jones began painting for Mbantua Gallery in November 2004. Also an artist, her mother in law is Janice Clarke Kngwarreye. Carmen is daughter of Susan Pwerle Chalmers and the late Larry Kngwarreye Jones. She has a sister and a brother, Maryanne Petyarre and Wayne Petyarre.
Carmen predominantly paints the Bush Onion which belongs to her mother's country. Carmen grew up in the Utopia Region where she still resides with her husband Bobby Clark, and three sons. She has also spent time living at Santa Teresa with her mother's family. Carmen attended a bush school at Soapy Bore (Arawerre) and Yirrara College in Alice Springs.
Mbantua Gallery Permanent Collection, Alice Springs
Carmen paints the story of the Irreyakwerree (Wild Onion). This plant is also known as yalka, nalgoo or onion grass (Cyperus bulbosus). The Irreyakwerree is one of the most important food plants in Central Australia, growing throughout the area and producing bulbs (onions) all year round except for a few weeks after rain when they germinate to form new plants.
The onions have a dark papery skin that covers their white inner flesh. The onions need to be peeled before being consumed. Carmen depicts peeled onions as white and unpeeled onions as brown. Circles represent bowls or piles of onions that the women have collected. Women are represented by the 'U' shaped motifs and carry with them their digging sticks and coolamons (carved wooden bowls) which are typical instruments used for collecting many bush foods. Wavy lines that stem from a centre circle represent the root system underneath the ground of the Irreyakwerree plant. These roots produce the bulbs.
There is a Dreaming story for the Irreyakwerree that belongs to Carmen's country, Arawerre. It is very important and ceremonies by Carmen and her people are carried out to demonstrate respect for this story and ensure its food productivity.