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Carmen Jones Petyarre


Irreyakwerre (Wild Onion) Dreaming |  30h x 30w  |  RK469

Not stretched or framed  |  Acrylic on canvas

Carmen Jones Petyarre paints the story of the Irreyakwerree (Wild Onion). This plant is also known as yalka, nalgoo or onion grass (Cyperus bulbosus). The Irreyakwerree is one of the most important food plants in Central Australia, growing throughout the area and producing bulbs (onions) all year round except for a few weeks after rain when they germinate to form new plants.

The onions have a dark papery skin that covers their white inner flesh. The onions need to be peeled before being consumed. Carmen depicts peeled onions as white and unpeeled onions as brown. Circles represent bowls or piles of onions that the women have collected. Women are represented by the 'U' shaped motifs and carry with them their digging sticks and coolamons (carved wooden bowls) which are typical instruments used for collecting many bush foods. Wavy lines that stem from a centre circle represent the root system underneath the ground of the Irreyakwerree plant. These roots produce the bulbs.

There is a Dreaming story for the Irreyakwerree that belongs to Carmen's country, Arawerre. It is very important and ceremonies by Carmen and her people are carried out to demonstrate respect for this story and ensure its food productivity.


Mbantua Gallery, Alice Springs NT
Red Kangaroo Gallery, Sydney, NSW

This painting does not come with a photo of the artist holding the work.

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