Quilts, and a whole lot more…
Home of the Purple Cat Gang
Donna McNamara (aka Donne McNamarra) is a skillful, as well as, ardent designer. Donna’s artwork is neat and vivid, brilliant and simply wonderful.
Donna’s design, Corroboree, shows people coming from all directions to attend a Corroboree, a ceremonial gathering of Aboriginal people. People are coming, bringing bush foods such as witchetty grubs, honey ants, and bush fruits which are all available in the area, and sitting around the round corroboree area. There are some strict unwritten regulations which attendees must follow. At corroboree Aboriginals interact with Dreamtime ancestors through dance, music, costumes and body decorations. Outside guests are not permitted to attend these ceremonies without the elders’ permission.
One type of corroboree does not cover all the social needs. There are corroborees for various purposes such as educational for children’s learning, death of a person, initiation and others. Dance is an integral part of Aboriginal culture and includes stories of the ancestral beings who are the creators of the universe. Dancing is learned at an early age.
Corroborees have religious connotations to relate individuals with the ancestral beings. Although the attendees and organizers are responsible people, they must get final clearance from the elders. No one is ever allowed to make unpleasant comments about the participants or performers.
Marie Ellis (aka Marie E. Ellis) is a well know Aboriginal artist from Alice Springs (Amoonguna Community.) Marie is the daughter of Michael Nelson Jakamarra, a well known Papunya artist. Roseanne, her sister, is an Arrente and a Warlpiri woman. Salt Plain, Marie’s Aboriginal fabric, depicts salt plains or salt pans.
Salt Plains are surrounded by extensive areas of sand dunes in a flat, arid landscape. Central Australia is a big and dry place with numerous large, dry salt lakes, especially in the Northern Territory. These creviced lakes are even more spectacular on the ground, typifying the beauty of the harsh lands of Australia, specifically at dawn and dusk.
Also, check out these other patterns: Desert Flowers, Four Seasons and Gathering Bush Food.
Donna Abbat (aka) Abbots is an experienced and skillful artist who is best known for her Banana Leaves and Bush Banana.
Banana Leaves – Bush Banana (Alangkwe) is one of the most popular fruits among the Aboriginal people in the Northern Territory. Bananas are eaten when they are small or fully grown. Bush Banana leaves are very decorative, as well as they have certain medicinal values to cure wounds, pains and even the flu. Young leaves are eaten without any treatments, while older leaves are eaten after being steamed. Banana Leaves incorporates subtle colors with lots of movement. Available in two colorways, quilters around the world will be as delighted with Banana Leaves as much as Bush Banana.
Bush Banana is a totemic plant which is often a featured piece of many Aboriginal artists. Donna’s Bush Banana is about the climbing woody vine found growing on other shrubs and trees. Its’ flowers are creamy in color. The thick narrow leaves grow from a short stalk, with pear shaped fruits. The vines are often found growing in dry creek beds and water courses in arid zones.
June Smith and Betty Mbitjana
We will highlight two more artists this week. June Smith is a well known artist in Santa Teresa, Alice Springs in Central Australia. Born in 1960 in Alice Springs, she grew up and studied in Alice Springs, as well. She is the first person in Santa Teresa to paint on silk.
Bush food (referred to as bush tucker in Australia) traditionally refers to any food which is native to Australia and is used as sustenance by the original inhabitants, the Australia Aborigines. For thousands of years, Aboriginal people survived living off the land, eating well when food was plentiful and conserving it in times of drought. Bush Tucker fabric is available in four colorways.
The second artist, Betty Mbitjana, is from Utopia in Central Australia. She is well known in Australia as well as many other countries where her artworks are in high demand. She inherited Bush Melon Dreaming from her mother Minnie Pwerle, now passed on. Ms. Pwerle was one of the great Aboriginal artists.
The bush melon is a sweet bush tucker which once grew in abundance in Utopia. As well as providing water, these melons are a good source of some essential vitamins and minerals. Native women would gather the fruit to be eaten at once or to be stored for times when bush tucker was scarce.
The Aboriginal iconography in this work refers to awelye (body paint) associated with the women’s ceremony and the bush melon. She depicts the bush melon in vibrant colors with the u-shape lines representing women while the other lines represent body paint markings. The large circles represent a ceremonial site; the small circles the bush melon. The dotted areas represent seed pods from the bush melon. Bush Melon fabric is available in two colorways.
Our first artist this week is E. Young. As a well known artist from the Northern Territory, she uses bright and vibrant colors for her artworks. These works depict land, flora and fauna with a flavor of traditional Aboriginal culture. With this expertise, Young used her strong color sense in the Women’s Business artwork. In the natural environment women are sitting around the waterholes with coolamon (a basinlike dish made from wood or bark) and digging sticks. Wildflowers are visible with bright colors around the area.
In Aboriginal culture, certain spiritual customs and practices are performed separately in a language group between men and women. These separate businesses are often referred to as men’s business and women’s business. These businesses are carried out under strict guidance of unwritten Aboriginal laws. Women’s Business fabric is available in two colorways—Gold and Charcoal. Patch workers and quilters love this design.
Our second artist is Natasha Stuart who designed Bush Tucker with Wild Fig. In Central Australia, wild fig grows naturally over a vast area. Fig is edible while raw and has a slight sweet taste. Dried figs are ground into a paste to eat.
Aboriginal people arrived on the Australian continent at least 50,000 years ago (by carbon dating). Over the period, they found ways of surviving that reveal an extensive detailed knowledge of the environment. Their understanding of native plants goes far beyond knowing what is edible. For survival and hunting they invented weapons and tools. Many of these things were unknown until recently. Even towards the end of the last century, it was hard to find a bush tucker (bush food) restaurant. Many books on the various bush tuckers are available. Natasha’s artwork provides some foods to use with wild fig for some fine dishes. It comes in three colorways, black, red and yellow.
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Fremont, CA 94536
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“I have to tell you that whenever I enter your shop I feel like I’m visiting friends and I’m certainly greeted as one of the family. I’m looking forward to completing many fabulous quilts together.”
We have received the new selection of Aboriginal Fabrics and you are sure to find something to love about them. The Aboriginal fabric designers continue to come up with unique designs in outstanding color combinations. You can see a couple here, but either come into the store to see the rest or look at the online store for the “New Arrivals” tab.