Gabriella Possum Nungurrayi
Size: 190 x 122 cm
Medium: Acrylic on Canvas
Born in 1967 at Mt. Allan, Gabriella Possum Nungurrayi is the eldest daughter of renowned artist Clifford Possum Tjapaltjarri. She was taught to paint by her father at a very young age, and since her father's passing the value of her works has increased dramatically. His influences are apparent in her work, yet she has formed a style of her own.Her paintings depict stories such as Bush Tucker (Exploding Seed and Black Seed from the Mt. Allan area), Women's Ceremonies, Serpent, Goanna and Seven Sisters Dreamings. Gabriella's work is bold and vivid in colour and composition and utilises many different techniques, the "dot" technique in particular.In 1985, at the tender age of 16, Gabriella won the coveted Alice Springs Art Award while still a student at Yirara Lutheran College in Alice Springs. She is recognised as a culturally significant artist and her work has been exhibited in the USA and throughout Europe. Her work is in many major collections including the National Gallery of Australia.Gabriella has become known for the important commissions and installations she has done. These include being part of the Vivid Projection Programme at Sydney Opera House in 2016; her design being used on an Art Tram during the 2014 Melbourne Festival; and her 2008 commission and installation depicting her custodial Grandmother's Country for the 2008 RHS Chelsea Flower Show.Gabriella now lives in Melbourne with her family.
Meaning of the artwork
In this painting the artist depicts motifs that give symbolic form to tribal women engaged in cultural activities in a desert environment known as Yuelamu, which the women inherited from their Ancestral Grandmother, who travelled to this Anmatyerre site in the Tanami Desert during the Dreamtime, at Creation.
Represented as symbolic U-shapes, the women are shown in different areas collecting wild growing bush food, which is given form through star-like shapes that represent berry bushes, while clusters of encased small dots and large dots serve to represent various types of berries and bush plums that the women collect. The red fire-like motif represents the women’s campfire and ceremonial site where the women gather for ceremony and engage in ritual song and dance and create body art and sand paintings, which the concentric circles in this work depict and double to act as specific sites where bush food is in plenty. Rain nourishes the desert and is captured through the white dotted motifs , which also serves to double as pipe-clay used as paint in the ritual life of Yuelamu`s women, who follow their Ancestral Grandmother’s example in her home country, which is the subject of this work.
Seven Sisters Dreaming
In the Dreamtime a group of seven Napaltjarri women were being pursued by a Jakamarra man called Jilbi. He had been sitting in a cave at irlkirdi practicing love magic by cutting off his long hair and weaving it by hand onto a wooden spindle, then performing songs and dances which people from far off could hear. Often he would entice young women to come to his cave and live with him. Jakamarra men were very proud of their successes when they practiced this magic, and spent much time boasting among themselves about their prowess. The seven women had no intention of sleeping with the Jakamarra man and ran away from him, journeying a long way across the desert until they were too tired and hungry to go any further. They sat down at Uluru to search for honey ants, then when they saw Jilbi approaching went to a place called Kurlunyalimpa, and changed themselves into seven fires.
With the help of spirits at Uluru they went up into the sky to become stars. Ever since then they can be seen as a cluster of seven stars in the constellation Taurus, known as the Pleiades. Jilbi transformed himself into the Morning Star in Orion’s belt, and continues to chase the Pleiades across the sky.