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Joy Pitjara

"Bush Plum" by Joy Pitjara


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Size: 94 x 73cm

Medium: Acrylic on Canvas

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Joy Pitjara was born in Boundary Bore, Utopia. She is the daughter of well-known artist Glory Ngarla (deceased) and sister to the very famous Anna Price Petyarre. Born in a famous artist family, Joy learned to work with batik in an early age from her mother and later started painting on canvas with acrylic paints. Using a fine dotting technique with subtle shades of color, Joy depicts stories such as the Bush Tobacco Plant and Yam Dreamings.

The subject of Joy’s painting tends to revolve around representations of leaves collected around her country and used for a variety of medicinal purposes. In particular, she returns, again and again, to "Bush Yam Leaves" and Bush Medicine", both of which themes show flowing representations of the leaves. Typical of Utopian artists, Joy rejoices in the use of color.


Story of Bush Plum Dreaming

Joy paints the Bush Plum Dreaming. This is a big story that spreads right across the western and central deserts, from Lajamanu and Warlpiri country to the Utopia homelands.

The Bush Plum Dreaming or Creation Story from the Utopia region goes like this: In the Dreamtime winds blew from all directions carrying the bush plum seed to the artists’ ancestral lands. The first bush plum of the Dreamings grew and bore fruit and dropped more seeds. Many winds blew the seeds all over the Dreaming lands.

To ensure the continued fruiting of this plant each season, the Aboriginal people pay homage to the spirit of the bush plum by painting about it and recreating it in their ceremonies through song and dance. The patterns in the paintings celebrate the Bush Plum work on many levels: they represent the fruit of the plant, its leaves, and flowers, and also the body paint designs that are associated with it during the ceremony.

The bush plum is a popular variety of bush tucker that is only found at certain times of the year. It is found throughout most of the Utopia region and as far west as Lajamanu. Sadly, it has declined in abundance due to the grazing of introduced animals, particularly cattle and rabbits. The bush plum fruits in the summer after rain and is an important food source, even though not all the plum is edible. The plums can be collected when ripe and immediately eaten, or they can be dried and eaten later.