The designs in this painting are inspired by alhepalh (Acacia dictyophleba), a sparsely branched shrub that is found abundantly near Michelle's home in the Utopia region in Central Australia. Alhepalh produces small soft coated brown seeds that the women would once collect, grind into a paste and cook into damper (bread) making it a most important food source. This practice however is not habitual now due to ready made bread.
“Alhepalh-penh ntang inem athaynteyew”
The seeds from the alhepalh are collected so that they can be ground up.
Depending on the size of the shrub, its trunk can also be used to fashion into spears and digging sticks and was traditionally an important trade object. Alhepalh also has medicinal properties and produces small fragrant flowers.
About the artist:
Name: Michelle Lion
Skin name: Kngwarreye (also spelled Ngwarai or Kngwarrey)
Language group: Alyawarr
Lives: Utopia, Central Australia