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bernadine johnson

"Bush Yam Dreaming" by Bernadine Johnson


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SIZE: 100 X 95 CM



Bernadine Kemarre is a rising star in the world of contemporary aboriginal art. She was born in 1974 in the Ltyentye Apurte Community (Santa Teresa), approx. 80km east of Alice Springs, Northern Territory, and had a traditional upbringing before attending school in Alice Springs.

Bernadine comes from a family of famous artists including Abie Loy and Josie Petrick Kemarre that have emerged from the Utopia area in the NT. Her sister-in-law is Anna Price Petyarre, one of the most sought-after Central Desert artists. She learned from a young age the art of painting her dreamings, ceremonies, and important bush foods onto canvas.

Bernadine currently lives with her husband Steven and their children in Napperby Station, NT. Her artworks are intricate and colorful and she is an artist sure to succeed.

About the Artwork

Ceremonies associated with the Bush Yam are widespread throughout Central Australia, celebrating the importance of this native food and recognizing its ritual importance. When large numbers of people have gathered together for ceremonies and Law business, the critical issue in the desert is finding enough food to feed everyone.

The Dreaming or Jukurrpa Stories that relate to Bush Yam can focus on its propagation to promote abundance, and can also reflect on the traditional obligations to equally share access to food. The Warlpiri Creation story that comes from the Yumurrpa site, north of Yuendumu on the edge of the Tanami Desert in Central Australia, is one example of this. The Ancestors of the Yarla or large Bush Yam were in conflict with the Ancestors of the smaller Wapirti white Yam. They fought a pitched battle over the rights to the site where the Yams were created at Yumurrpa, and therefore were fighting over access to these mainstays of bush food. The custodians of the site maintain the ceremonies that record this battle waged by their Dreamtime Ancestors, and recognize the message that their Ancestors are telling them. This is a message of fairness of distribution of food, to avoid creating violence and disruption in society.