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Bessie Petyarre

"Bush Plum Dreaming" by Bessie Petyarre


Commission Painting

  • Size: 199 cm by 130 cm 
  • Acrylic paint on canvas

Artist: Bessie Petyarre
Skin name: Petyarre (also spelled Pitjara)
Language group: Anmatyerre
Country: Alhalkere
Region: Utopia, Central Australia
Born: 1971

Bessie Purvis Petyarre began painting in 2005. Her mother, the late Polly Ngale, was one of Utopia's most respected and sought-after artists. Bessie has been supported and has learned her culture and the technique of Dreamtime depiction via her mother and her aunties.

Her "Bush Plum Dreaming" paintings are inspired by three greats - her father-in-law Kubbitji Kngwarreye, Aunty Emily Kame Kngwarreye, and her mother Polly - depicting her country, Alhalkere, and all it encompasses. 

Her Dreamings come from both her parents, learning the Antwelarr and Kame Dreamtime from her father and the Anwekety Dreaming from her mother.

 The Atnwelarr and Kame Dreamtime story is also a very important story for Bessie’s country. Atnwelarr refers to the plant and Kame, the seed. It is the most common depiction in Bessie's paintings and women's ceremonies are continually performed to pay homage to the spirit of the Bush Plum and to ensure its perpetual productivity.

 Bush Plum is a significant story of this region and a major food source collected by women. The women will gather as much as possible as the fruit is only harvestable for several weeks throughout the year. 

Bessie uses a topographical technique to illustrate the growth patterns of the Bush Plum by building up layers of paint using techniques of dotting, and smearing, and by her use of variegated brushmarks. In doing so, Bessie is able to visually celebrate the seasonal variations and cultural significance of the Bush Plum.