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Selina Numina Napananka / My Country (5A)
200cm x 88cm Acrylic on CanvasView more from artist
200cm x 88cm Acrylic on Canvas
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Ochre / Kimberley artworks are shipped on canvas or linen, already stretched, ready to hang unless stated otherwise.
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Selina was born in 1978 and is the daughter of Barbara Price Mbtitjana who is an elder painter and cultural elder from Stirling Station. Selina has five sisters, Jacinta, Lanita, Louise, Caroline and Sharon Numina, who are also well respected artists from Utopia. Selina, along with her sisters and brothers were sent to boarding school in Darwin as no secondary schooling was available in Tennant Creek, 500kms north of Alice Springs. The family now live in Darwin and often travel back to Ti Tree and Stirling Station in the north Utopia region near Tennant Creek.
Selina’s family come from a long line of desert artists of the contemporary Aboriginal art including world renowned aunties: Gloria and Kathleen Petyerre, who are well established artists. Many women from the Petyerre, Mambitji and Numina family name hold custody of the story and knowledge keepers of stories such as Bush Medicine Leaves, Bush Tucker, Seeded, Soakage, Womens’ Ceremony etc – in common with other skin groups across the vast arid landscape and desert areas of central Australia.
Subjects of importance in the theme-series paintings are various bush tucker stories. Plant foods include wild berries, plums, onion, yam, seeds etc. Many animals can be depicted as food source or as totems such as Thorny Devil Lizard and Dingo Tracks. Womens’ Ceremony, Awelye Body Art Ceremony are mostly painted by senior ladies but younger women need to know it from a young age. Some themes such as Bush Tucker can be open and universal others can be secret and passed down through cultural ceremonies.
Knowing, carrying and reinforcing these stories gives respect for Country and ancestors and shows responsibility and care of holding such stories to keep the stories and traditional practices alive. The knowledge must be retold repeatedly and handed on. The Numina Sisters have all been taught to paint by their earlier elder painter grandmothers, mother-aunties, and cousin-sisters connected across the Central Desert region. Their mother’s and grandmother’s Country is in the bush and remote Stirling Station. Their father is from Utopia community side.
In this painting the artist has depicted her country where they collect the bush medicine leaves and various plants with seeds or plums. Also shown are travel paths passing through the stony country as well as the desert areas including hills and dried up salt lake areas.
Women’s paintings often depict a topographical view of their country with stories related to women’s business, or initiation ceremony for women. The women may be past initiates, or young women awaiting instruction from older women. Initiates are taught their roles as nurturers of the land and keepers of the law by which life’s rules and regulations are set. Other stories involve bush medicine, seed dreaming and fire dreaming. Ceremonies always involve song, dance and body decoration. The ownership, management and performance are dependent upon knowledge and status. Body-painting carries deep spiritual significance for the Aboriginal people.
They recognise the creative nature of this activity, which uses the human body itself as a living canvas for artistic expression. The use of particular designs and motifs denotes social position and the relationship of the individuals to their family group and to particular ancestors, totemic animals and tracts of land. In many situations’ individuals are completely transformed so they ‘become’ the spirit ancestor they are portraying in the dance. Patterns must conform to the ceremony being performed, and the women are not at liberty to adorn themselves with designs of free will. Elaborate ground constructions (sand paintings) are also made. Usually during ceremonies, their body-painting depicts similar linear designs as those illustrated in the ground paintings.
Some paintings often depict their country where the story takes place. During the ceremonies the women will collect the ochres and Spinifex ashes, which are mixed with Kangaroo or Emu fat to make the body paint. Body-painting ranges from simply smearing clay across the face, to intrinsic full body patterning. Many other women’s ceremonies, the song and dance cycles 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. 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, ceremonial site, waterhole or fire. The exact imprint of human feet or animal paws depicts tracks of humans or animals including emus, possums, kangaroos etc.
Sometimes stories involving bush medicine depict the country surrounding the areas where the dreaming takes place, or where the ceremony is performed. The Bush Medicine Plant is an Australian native that grows wild in Central Australia. Women collect leaves from these plants; the leaves are boiled to extract resin. Kangaroo fat is mixed into the resin, creating a paste that can be stored for a long time in bush conditions. This medicine is used to heal cuts, wounds, bites and rashes. It is also used to treat the flu, headache, backache, upset stomach, chest pains or as an insect repellent. As the leaves and petals dry out, they fall off and are blown around by the wind. This is represented in the painting and gives it the movement.
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