ABOUT THE ARTIST and the artwork – BETTY PULA MORTON (more below)
The community of Ampilatwatja made a conscious decision not to paint ‘alterr’ dreaming stories.
The artists paint their countries where those stories sit.
Betty has painted her country, where she can always find bush tucker and bush medicine. She is very happy when out bush hunting and gathering, it is when she feels most connected to country and culture.
She draws her inspiration from being out on the land, especially from the hunting and gathering trips wher she sees the different seasonal plants, bush foods and medicines, that are producting at that time; and observes the ever-changing layered landscapes.
‘They are always changing, with the light of day and the seasons of the year”
Betty enjoys and understands the importance of painting bush medicine plants. They help in teh healing of her people and it keeps the tradition and knowledge strong.
These particular plans are very plentiful after rain adn can be used for numerous conditions, such as skin irriations, flu, coughs and infections.
‘Bush medicine plants are used for healing on the body and for drinking. We make this by smashing the plants with a rock, we use the juice and the fibre of the plant. We collect bush medicine plants when we are out hunting. Different kinds of plants grow during different seasons. There are lots of different medicines, we know what their stories are as we learnt them from our parents and we teach these stories to our children.’
ABOUT THE ARTISTS OF AMPILATWATJA
The Artists of Ampilatwatja (pronounced um-bludder-witch) community was established in 1999 near Alice Springs in the Northern Territory.
The work produced by the artists is recognisably distinct from other Aboriginal artistic communities, due to the application of fine dots and the often bright and figurative depiction of the land.
Most of the artists paint Arreth, which translates as ‘strong bush medicine’, demonstrating a deep connection to country.
A veritable source of life, the land has provided and sustained Alyawarr people for generations, as every plant and animal has a vital role to play within the ecological system.
The paintings pay homage to the significance and use of traditional bush medicine, allowing an insight into their community. Yet underneath the iridescent surfaces, there is an underlying sense that there is more to these landscapes than meets the eye.
In keeping with the religious laws, the artists reveal only a small amount of the knowledge to the uninitiated. The esoteric information that is held sacred to these artists and their people is concealed from the public and layered underneath the common visual narrative, masked by the delicate layered dots of the painting. The many levels of interpretation permit artists to present their art to an often culturally untutored public without comprimising its religious nature.
Artists talk of two broad levels of interpretation, the ‘inside’ stories which are restricted to those of the appropriate ritual standing, and the ‘outside’ stories which are open to all.
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