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Louise Numina

"Women's Ceremony" by Louise Numina


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Size: 130 x 95cm

Medium: Acrylic on Canvas

Commissions Available

Louise Numina is an Anmatyerre artist and one of six sisters and three brothers who lived at Ti Tree, 190km North of Alice Springs in Central Australia. Her mother is artist Barbara Mbitjana (Other names: Pananka or Price). She attended primary school at Stirling Station, a cattle station near Tennant Creek where she began painting at a young age, taking guidance from her world-famous aunties Gloria and Kathleen Petyarre. She later studied at Yirara College in Alice Springs. After her studies, she returned to Stirling Station to work with the Community Development Program. In 2000 the Numina family moved to Darwin where they still live today.

Louise and her five sisters, also well-respected artists from Utopia, share many totems including the Bush Medicine Plant, Thorny Devil Lizard, Awelye (Ceremonial Body Paint), and Women’s Dreaming’s, Louise first began painting the Women's bush tucker dreaming’s when she was a young girl, and now predominantly paints the Bush Medicine Leaves, Bush Yam & Awelye (Ceremonial Body Paint).

About the artwork

In this painting, Louise depicts the body paint that was painted on Aboriginal women during important ceremonies and rites of passage. Aboriginal women have their own ceremonies in which a series of song and dance cycles tell of the Ancestral Beings who walked the earth teaching women's law and ceremony to isolated groups living throughout the desert.

Each tribe has its own set of women ancestors with different stories, designs and dances, but most of the ceremonies have one theme common to all groups, that of food gathering as the most important part of women's lives.

The song and dance ceremonies mainly revolve around bush tucker, such as yam, banana, wild tomato, plum, onions, honey ants, witchetty grubs, nuts and berries. In their paintings they depict the implements they use, including digging sticks, grinding stones, and coolamons for carrying. The abstract figures they show are the same as those painted by men. For example, a 'U' shape represents a person or groups of people sitting down with crossed legs. A larger 'U' indicates a windbreak. Concentric circles can represent a campsite, stone, waterhole or fire. The exact imprint of human feet or animal paws depicts tracks of humans, emus, possums, kangaroos etc.

During the ceremonies the women will paint their bodies and breasts in various designs which represent the particular ceremony being performed. Mostly these are curved or straight lines, including circles and squares.