Polly NELSON (Aborigine artist, Australia, born circa 1939)
Arlparra Outstation - Body Paint Designs for Awelye (Women’s Corroboree)
Body paintings for the feminine ceremonies “Awelye”
Acrylic on canvas, circa 1990
Indicated references on canvas’s verso: POLLY Utopia Art PN501 Polly Nelson
Stretcher with wedges
Height: 196 cm (77 in.) - Width: 135 cm (53 in.)
Overall good condition. Minor abrasions traces on borders (notably one more prominent trace measuring 10 cm [4 in.] on one border)
Utopia Art (Alice Springs ) & Galerie Woo-Mang (Paris)
Work accompanied with its certificate of origin issued by Utopia Art (Alice Springs):
Originally from the famous artistic community Utopia located in the heart of the central Australian desert, Polly Nelson is very representative of this school of painters where women have always played a leading role. In fact in the beginning Utopia was formed from a women's cooperative working with batik on silk, a technique of applying wax on a textile backing that was then dyed.
Inspired by the paintings motifs which covered the body to celebrate their fertility rites, the Utopia artists soon mingled drawings inspired by the rich flora from their native region which they reproduced with their hands (sometimes paint brush or crayon drawings).
They finally transposed these motifs on canvas to celebrate the myths - or "dreams" - in which they were the guardians.
Originally, the patterns used by painters were those of traditional floor paintings made during sacred ceremonies celebrating the Great Ancestors of Aboriginal people. Aboriginal ritual painting would use natural pigments such as coal, kaolin and ochre. For reasons of convenience, Aboriginal painters during the 1970s used - especially in the desert where they store better - acrylic paints that allowed them to diversify their palette. While using acrylic the artist privileged tones recalling the proper traditional ochre to evoke their homeland.
With the development of this art, other traditional sources of inspiration were put to work and among them was body paint.
These drawings inspired Polly Nelson in her work.