Dulcie Long Pula
Dulcie is the adopted daughter of renowned artist Polly Ngale and the biological daughter of Jeannie Petyarre. Dulcie has continued the strong painting tradition of her extended family. She comes from the Utopia region of the Northern Territory; a community that has astounded the art world since Aboriginal people put paint on canvas in the late 1980s. The Utopia women, in particular, caught the attention of the international art world for their sense of color, creativity, genius, and contemporary appeal. Dulcie grew up surrounded by these artistic prodigies including Emily Kame Kngwarreye, Gloria and Kathleen Petyarre, Greeny Purvis Petyarre, and the Pwerle sisters, Minnie, Emily, Galya, Lizzie, and Molly. Dulcie began her artistic career depicting the interweaving leaves of the Pencil Yam from the Alhalkere Country of her mother. It is an important bush tucker food for Aboriginal people as well as a significant dreaming story that is celebrated in their Awelye ceremonies. The Pencil Yam and Bush Medicine leaves are a common motif for her creative relatives and Dulcie's work has captivating rhythmic strokes and vibrant colors. Dulcie also paints this story with reverence for its history and with the hope that the spirit of the plants continues.While continuing her family's tradition of painting this story, Dulcie has also branched out and started to pursue a more individualistic and minimalistic style. Her works depict her ancestral country where important Awelye ceremonies take place. Fine rows of dots marking out the locations of sandhills, bush scrub, river flood plains, and sometimes waterholes and ceremonial sites. Despite Dulcie's progress to a more restrained color palette, there is exceptionally fine attention to detail, complex designs, and underlying cultural meaning.With an impressive portfolio of paintings, subjects, and styles already to her name, Dulcie continues the Utopia art tradition of creating bold artworks with colour, style, and flair. Time will tell if she will join her family members as one of the greats.
About the Painting
The Perentie (Nintaka) and the Goanna (Milbili), agreed to decorate each other for a ceremony. The Perentie was a good artist who took great care with his work. So he painted the Goanna with great care and skill. He painted fine lines and dots over the Goanna’s body. When the paint had dried, he turned the Goanna over and using the thinnest of brushes and the greatest of care, painted extremely fine lines on his belly.Now it was the Goanna’s turn to paint the Perentie. The Goanna however was lazy, and because it took so long for the Perentie to paint the Goanna, and the time for the ceremony was drawing near, the Goanna quickly painted the Perentie with crude splashes of yellow dots, which he applied with pieces of rolled-up bark. When the Goanna had finished, the Perentie asked how he looked. The Goanna lied and said he looked beautiful. However, on the way to the ceremony, the Perentie walked passed a waterhole and saw his reflection in the water. The Perentie was angry about how he looked, and rushed to attack the Goanna, but the Goanna escaped by climbing to the top of a Gum tree.The Perentie cursed the Goanna and said that from now on he must live in the branches of trees and take shelter in the tree hollows, while he would use the rocks as his home and shelter.Today, you can see the two keep to their own habitats, still wearing the designed on their bodies. The Goanna with a delicate lace-like pattern on its back, while the Perentie’s dark brown skin is covered with large yellow dots of irregular lines.