Merne Pmerlpe (Quandongs) and Merne Alangkwe (Bush Banana) SP6911-Marie Ryder

Acrylic on Canvas
30 x 30cm


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Merne Pmerlpe (Quandongs) and Merne Alangkwe (Bush Banana) SP6911-Marie Ryder

Marie paints merne pmerlpe, known as the quandong or native peach (Santalum acuminatum). Marie also refers to these as bush berries. Merne means food in Marie's language and Pmerlpe is the quandong. The pmerlpe is a traditional staple food, sought after for its fleshy fruit. It can be found in the southern area of Central Australia where Marie grew up. The quandong is bright red when ripe and highly nutritious; its vitamin C content is twice as high as that of an orange. Sometimes a ripe yellow fruit is encountered. If the fruit has fallen off the tree and gone dry, the fruit can be collected and easily reconstituted in water. In traditional aboriginal life, these fruits were also collected, pounded and made into cakes. The inside of the quandong has a large pitted stone or seed which is often used for marbles or making jewellery.

Marie illustrates the quandong when it is ripe and ready to eat raw.

Marie also paints merne alangkwe, known as the bush banana (Leichhardtia). The woody, winding vine of the bush banana plant can be found climbing up other native trees and shrubs in Central Australia. It produces creamy white flowers and long skinny green leaves. This plant grows very quickly after rain and about a month later the fruits ripen and are collected by the Aboriginal people. This is an important and favoured food, eaten raw. The sweet flowers, leaves and roots can also be eaten. If not collected before maturation, the banana eventually opens up and releases numerous seeds with white feathery plumes (similar to a dandelion) that are carried by the wind for long distances to begin regermination. The fruit at this stage can still be eaten, but are favoured cooked. Aboriginal people often use the plumes for decorative purposes in ceremonies.

Marie illustrates the vine, leaves and fruit of the bush banana plant when it is ripe and ready to eat raw.

Marie likes to use traditional ochre colours in the background design to reflect the rich sand hill country of Central Australia.

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Mbantua Alice Gallery