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Desert Yam in Aboriginal Art

September 12, 2018 1 min read

Desert yams or bush potatoes

The desert yam or bush potato are tubers or swollen roots of the Ipomoea costata, a fast-growing creeper with large purplish-pink trumpet flowers. They are still a staple food for Aboriginal people in parts of Australia and can be harvested any time of year, preferably after big rain.

The desert yam is sacred to the people of Irrwelty in northern Utopia and can be found featured in paintings by Aboriginal people of this area.

Typically in these paintings, clusters of small parallel lines energetically depict the yam and its flowers, framed in bright speckles of dots that represent the yam seeds and the importance of re-germination.

Desert yam dot painting by Jeannie Mills

Artworks

Artists who paint the bush yam include Jeannie Mills Pwerle, Jean Mills Pwerle, Lisa Mills Pwerle, Natalie Mills Pwerle, Eric Mills Pwerle, Shakira Petrick Petyarre and Patrina Bundy.

Large panel sized painting by Jeannie Mills Pwerle, 210cm x 90cm

 

Vibrant magenta and blue Desert Yam painting by Jeannie Mills Pwerle, 120cm x 90cm

 

Orange and yellow panel sized painting by Lisa Mills Pwerle, 90cm x 30cm

 

Blue and green Desert Yam painting by Shakira Petrick Petyarre, 120cm x 60cm

 


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