On display in the charcoal gallery. Can't visit the gallery? View our online exhibition here.
click on image above to view the exhibition catalogue
Polly Ngale is one of the most senior custodians of her country Ahalpere, in the heart of Utopia, located in the north west corner of the Simpson desert and roughly 350km north east of Alice Springs, along the Sandover Highway.
Polly in considered one of the most accomplished painters from the Utopia region and is inspired by the Arnwetky (conkerberry) – a green tangled, spiny shrub that produces fragrant white flowers. After the summer rains tiny green berries begin to grow and ripen, changing colour over the weeks from light green to pinks and browns to yellow, to shades of red and purple when they finally ripen. The fruits very much resemble a plum and is often referred to in English by Polly as a ‘bush plum’. The Arnwetky is a popular variety of bush tucker for the people of Utopia, as well as possessing medicinal properties.
During the Dreamtime, winds came from all directions, carrying the Arnwetky seed all over Polly’s ancestors’ Anmatyerre land. To ensure the continued fruiting of the Arnwetky, the Anmatyerre people pay homage to the spirit of the bush plum by recreating it in their ceremonies through song and dance, and in recent years, through painting. The patterns in the paintings can represent the fruit of the plant, its leaves and flowers, and also the body paint designs that are associated with it during ceremony.
For Anmatyerre women, the bush plum is a source of physical and spiritual sustenance - reminding them of the sacredness of Ahalpere country. Its story is crucial to Anmatyerre women's ceremonies.
Polly’s depictions of Arnwetky are the accumulation of a lifetime's knowledge about the country that she loves and feels a personal responsibility to care for. The power of the art resonates across geographical, botanical and spiritual dimensions.
In recent years, Polly has undergone a renaissance in her work - by all accounts producing some of the finest paintings of her career to date.
Kate Owen Gallery is delighted to present Polly Ngale’s new body of work, which showcases her exuberant and masterful depiction of Arnwetky .
Polly Ngale's Bush Plum