Maggie Bird Unearthed showcases a collection of symbolic dot paintings by Utopia artist Maggie Bird in what marks her first solo exhibition.
Born in 1973 as the eldest of 11 children, Maggie Bird grew up in the southern region of Utopia. Her country is Ilkawerne which spreads across this area and continues south toward Alice Springs, some 150km away. A small bright green plant called Alpar can be found abundantly here.
Alpar is a small herb that resembles that of a rat tail. It produces small black seeds that were painstakingly collected and cleaned in years gone by, sometimes soaked in water until swollen, and cooked in the hot coals before finally being ground into a flour ready to be used.
Maggie's paintings depict the Alpar Story, where U shapes are women collecting the seeds, shown sometimes with their digging sticks and coolamons (carved wooden bowls).
Arc designs, found on the sides or corners of her paintings, represent ceremonial body paint designs. Being an abundant and important plant in the area it was sacred and protected; to be used to nourish the people.
Songs would be sung as women collected the alpar and prepared it. Increase ceremonies were performed to ensure it's longevity and production.
You can learn more about Maggie Bird and the exhibition via the exhibition page.
"The eighteen exhibition artworks depict the Alpar Seed Story and are fed with colour, intensity and symbolism born from strong cultural lore."
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