Language Group: Alyawarre
Country: Atnwengerrp, Utopia Region, North East of Alice Springs
Medium: Acrylic on Canvas and Linen, Batik on Silk and Cotton
Subjects: Awelye (Women's Ceremonial Body Paint Designs), Akarley (Northern Wild Orange), Country, Bush Foods
May began painting for Mbantua Gallery in 1996 along with her sisters Dorothy, Topsy, Mary, Mavis and Gypsy. These sisters are married into the Jones family of Utopia and therefore go by either the Lewis or the Jones surname.
May's paintings are commonly based on Awelye that is performed for the Akarley which is a bush orange that can be found throughout her country. Her paintings consist of refined dot work in various colours and patterns.
Mbantua Gallery Permanent Collection, Alice Springs
In this painting, May illustrates Awelye (Women's Ceremony). Women perform Awelye ceremonies to demonstrate respect for their country and the total well-being and health of their community.
The women sing the songs associated with their Awelye as each woman takes her turn to be 'painted-up'. Dancing sticks can also be seen next to the women.
Linear designs are painted onto their chest, breasts, arms and thighs. Powders ground from ochre (clays), charcoal and ash are used as body paint and applied with a flat stick with soft padding. Concentric circles represent the site where the Awelye is being performed. Background dotting represents May's country, Atnwergerrp.