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rochelle bird

"Bush Plum Dreaming" by Rochelle Bird Mbitjana


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Size: 92 x 96 cm

Medium: Acrylic on Canvas

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Rochelle Bird Mbitjana is the eldest child of leading Utopia artist Janet Golder Kngwarreye. The artistic line in her family runs deep. Her great-grandmothers are esteemed Utopia artists Polly Ngale and Angelina Pwerle, her great-uncle is a senior lawman and artist Greeny Purvis, and her aunt is Belinda Golder Kngwarreye.

Rochelle learned to paint by observing and assisting her mother and other female relatives. Her style is distinctive, and the intricate dot work combined with a flair for colour and attention to detail will surely take this young artist to the top of her profession.

Meaning of the Painting

The Bush Plum Dreaming Story is a big story that spreads right across the western and central deserts from Lajamanu and Warlpiri country to the Utopia homelands.

The Bush Plum Dreaming or Creation Story from the Utopia region goes like this: In the Dreamtime winds blew from all directions carrying the bush plum seed to the artists’ ancestral lands. The first bush plum of the Dreamings grew and bore fruit and dropped more seeds. Many winds blew the seeds all over the Dreaming lands.

To ensure the continued fruiting of this plant each season, the Aboriginal people pay homage to the spirit of the bush plum by painting about it and recreating it in their ceremonies through song and dance. The patterns in the paintings celebrating the Bush Plum work on many levels: they represent the fruit of the plant, its leaves and flowers and also the body paint designs that are associated with it during ceremony.

The bush plum is a popular variety of bush tucker that is only found at certain times of the year. It is found throughout most of the Utopia region and as far west as Lajamanu. Sadly it has declined in abundance due to the grazing of introduced animals, particularly cattle and rabbits. The bush plum fruits in the summer after rain and is an important food source, even though not all of the plum is edible. The plums can be collected when ripe and immediately eaten, or they can be dried and eaten later.