Wild Potato Dreaming bears artist's name and Stuart Art Centre catalogue number 9027 on the reverse synthetic polymer paint on composition board 91 x 71cm
PROVENANCE: Painted at Papunya in late 1971 Painting 27 in consignment 9 for the Stuart Art Centre, Alice Springs Private collection Ebes Collection, Melbourne
LITERATURE: Hank Ebes (ed.), Nangara: the australian aboriginal art exhibition from the Ebes collection, Melbourne: The Aboriginal Gallery of Dreamings, 1996, vol 1, p.41, cat. no.23; vol 2, cat. no.23 (illus.). Hank Ebes (ed.), The Australian Aboriginal Art Exhibition, Japan: The Yomiuri Shimbun, 2001, p.22, p.23 (illus.)., p.108 Geoffrey Bardon, and James Bardon, Papunya, A Place Made After the Story: The Beginnings of the Western Desert Painting Movement, Melbourne: The Miegunyah Press, 2004, p.328, ptg.270 (illus.).
EXHIBITED: Nangara: the australian aboriginal art exhibition from the Ebes collection, Stichting Sint-jan, Brugge, Belgium, March 9 - June 23, 1996, cat. no.23 The Australian Aboriginal Art Exhibition, Hokkaido Asahikawa Museum of Art, Asahikawa, Japan, April 13 May 27, 2001; Tochigi Prefectual Museum of Fine Arts, Utsunomiya, Japan, July 15 September 2, 2001; Iwaki City Art Museum, Iwaki, Japan, November 10 - December 16, 2001, cat. no.6 Dreamtime - Aboriginal Art from the Ebes Collection, Arken Museum of Modern Art, Ishoj, Copenhagen, Denmark, February 11 - August 13, 2006
Charlie Tarawa Tjungurrayi, also known as Wutuma, was a senior man of great intelligence and compassion. This early painting is of the Yala Bush Potato Dreaming country immediately north of his home country of Tjiterurlnga, a rock-hole site associated with the Ninu (Rabbit-eared Bandicoot or, to use a southern Aboriginal name for it, the bilby). Tjiterurlnga is in the Dovers Hills in Western Australia, not far over the border directly west of Alice Springs.
The large bush potatoes are shown as being linked by their root systems, with smaller tubers growing from them. Each star-like shape is noted by Geoff as being a "wild potato" but is more likely to represent a plan view of the vine-like plant. In good seasons the yala are available in large numbers, both directly beneath the plant and along the line of the laterally spreading roots about 0.4 metre below the surface. At such times they are a staple food, and can be eaten raw, although they are preferred lightly baked. In the early 1930's drought explorer-prospector Michael Terry and linguist Ted Strehlow both reported Warlpiri people using them as a water source when in arid country.