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Tanya Bird Mpetyane


Awelye for Ahakeye (Bush Plum) |  90h x 60w  |  RK850

Not framed or stretched  |  Acrylic on primed linen

Tanya Bird Mpetyane (b.1981) is the daughter of artists Eileen Bird and the late Paddy Bird. Her grandmother was Ada Bird Petyarre, senior law woman and highly respected artist from Utopia.

Tanya grew up surrounded by artists and the routine of painting. She first began painting herself as an early teenager under the guidance of her Grandmother, Ada.

In 2010, Tanya began using black, grey and white designs to depict her subjects and more  recently she has been painting using various bold, striking colours.

The linear designs in Tanya's painting represent Awelye (Women's Ceremony and Body Paint Designs) for the Ahakeye (Bush Plum). These designs are painted onto the chest, breasts, arms and thighs. Powders ground from red and yellow ochre (clays), charcoal and ash are used as body paint and applied with a flat stick with soft padding. The women sing the songs associated with their Awelye as each woman takes her turn to be 'painted-up'. The ahakeye, called bush plum in English by Tanya, is also known as the native currant or citrus. It belongs to the canthium attenuatum shrub which grows about 3m high. This shrub produces small white flowers, deep green citrus-like leaves and the ahakeye which are black when ripe and very small. This fruit is favoured for its sweet taste and can be reconstituted in water if dry. In this painting, the dot work represents the fruit of the bush plum.

Tanya's work is sought after by both galleries and collectors worldwide.

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