Language Group: Anmatyerre
Country: Ilkawerne, Utopia Region, North East of Alice Springs
Medium: Acrylic on Canvas and Linen
Subjects: Alpar (Rat-tail plant) Story, Awelye (Women's Ceremony and Body Paint Designs), Women's Stories, Bush Foods, Country, Inpernp (Little Whistle Bird)
Jessie is the eldest daughter of renowned artist Lindsay Bird Mpetyane, and her mother is Mavis Bird Petyarre. Her two younger sisters are Rosie and Karen. Jessie has had the advantage of an Aboriginal education as well as a European education. She attended Mulga Bore (Akaye School) Primary and Yirara College in Alice Springs. Encouraged to develop her artistic talents by her family when quite young, Jessie would assist other family members with their work.
Her first paintings for Mbantua Gallery were in 1994. These earlier works comprised of very neat patterns of dots when describing her country, and strong, bold linear patterns when illustrating women's stories and body paint. Today Jessie's work is more refined as she explores new ideas to portray her stories from Ilkawerne Country.
Jessie also works as a teacher's aid at the Mulga Bore Primary School and helps to 'growup' some of the younger children in her large extended family.
Mbantua Gallery Permanent Collection, Alice Springs
|1999||Mbantua Gallery, Alice Springs, NT, Australia|
|2002||Mbantua Gallery USA exhibitions: Art and Soul Gallery, Nashville TN; 'The Cove Gallery' Portland OR; Urban Wine Works, Portland OR; Mary's Woods, Portland OR; New City Merchants, Knoxville, TN|
|2003||Mbantua Gallery USA exhibitions: New City Merchants, Knoxville TN; Art and Soul Gallery, Nashville TN; 'The Cove Gallery', Portland OR; Contemporary Aboriginal Art Event, Umpqua Bank, Portland OR; Mary's Woods, Portland OR; Art From The Dreamtime, Portland Art Museum, Portland OR|
|2004||Mbantua Gallery USA exhibitions: Portland, Knoxville and Hartford|
Jessie paints the story of the rat-tail goosefoot or green crumbweed plant (Dysphania kAlpari). In Jessie's language it is called Alpar. This small, erect herb is sticky to touch and scented heavily of citrus. Growing especially well in Mulga tree communities, it is found in abundance in Jessie's home in the Utopia Region, north east of Alice Springs. It produces small clustered flowers that form long spikes, resembling that of a rat tail, as well as small black shiny seeds. These seeds are high in protein and low in fibre. Due to the sticky nature of this plant, the seeds are not shed as soon as they mature, making them available much later in the season than most other plants.
In the olden days, the women of Ilkawerne country would collect these seeds, sometimes soak them in water until swollen or cooked in hot coals, and then grind them into a powder that was used for making damper (bread). This practice is not as habitual now due to ready made bread, however the story is continually taught to the younger ones and ceremonies are carried out to ensure its productivity. The scented leaves of Alpar were also collected, soaked in water and used as a medicinal wash. Alternatively they would be ground into a powder and mixed with animal fats for use as an ointment, making this plant a very important food and medicinal source.