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Bundjungu (Yolngu name)
Capparis umbonata (Latin name)
'bush orange' (Common name)
This plant belongs to the Yirritja moiety
Cultural information about this plant:
Capparis umbonata is the only Australian member of the family which includes capers. It is also known as bush orange.
It is Ngarakamirr djinawa, balanyar nhakun orange (segmented inside like an orange). It is a very healthy fruit.Today nobody is really eating it: instead, they get fruit from the shop. The black circles in the top of the painting are the borum (fruit). The plant has nyumukuniny (small) leaves, and the wood is grey. It is a diltjipuy (hinterland) plant. I made this painting after eating bundjungu at Yathikpa. I was thinking about how we used to eat when I was a child. I thought about how when I was young there were so many really old people around, with all of their knowledge and wisdom, living actively and healthy. I was thinking about nowadays, when everyone is dying so young, and about the rubbish that our children eat. This was the first painting I made that just showed a plant in a non-sacred way. It was my way of trying to protect and value the knowledge of our food. This is a wonderful plant. Bundjngu (Yirritja). It is prevalent around Yathikpa and ripens early in the wet season. The fruit has a green skin and is yellow inside. It is best picked and then left for a few days before eating. If you cut it open and rub the fruit with murungun (red ochre), then leave it for three or four days, it helps the fruit to soften and ripen. Bundjungu starts to flower and ripen in November-December. Same time as the munydjutj (a tree whose green pea-like berry is ready at the end of the dry season).
Once I started painting food plants without reference to their sacred identity, I had to find a new way to paint. I could not use the miny'tji (sacred design) or steal the sacred identity of the plants which belonged to clans other than my own.
So I had to find a marwat (crosshatched background) which was just wakinngu (ordinary) but not just infill. So I had to let the plants tell me what their secular identity or character was. By the way they grow or the way they look or express themselves. This gave me their rhythm or their pattern. Only in this way could I use my art to share the important message about the health of the land and its people without breaking Yolngu law. One of the ways I approached this was to play with the composition or segmentation of the painting.
You can see this with my paintings of bundjngu. Sometimes I have painted the fruit to show its inner structure.
Sometimes I have painted things such as small termite mounds to introduce an element of the surrounding bush landscape. Sometimes I show the whole plant as seen from far away, with an emphasis on the fruit. Sometimes in the same painting I might show a detailed study of the leaves. Sometimes I like to show a plant alone as a single image, and at other times I like to show how it grows with other plants of the same or different species. I try to show the different components of the plant and the direction of growth of each of them. I might show the plant from above or from the side, or both simultaneously.
(Mulkun Wirrpanda, 2017)
Botanical information about this plant:
- a small slender tree growing to 7 metres in height
- linear-lanceolate leaves up to 30 centimetres in length, on drooping branches
- white sweetly scented flowers, opening at night
- globular fruit to 50 millimetres in diameter; orange and strongly scented when ripe; the ripe fruit (which often stays green in colour) is very good to eat, but has a strong distinctive fruity smell
- occurs in open woodlands and monsoon vine forests; widespread across Australia north of Alice Springs, but never very common.
A botanical painting in natural pigments and ochres on eucalyptus stringy bark, depicting the native plant species Bundjungu. The painting features a plant with five pieces of fruit growing on it. Each piece of fruit is round with a black perimeter and a green ochre coloured centre. The middle of the fruit features white dots. On the reverse of the bark, the number '4317Ra' is handwritten in black ink, and there is a 'BUKU-LARRNGAY MULKA' adhesive label attached, including the artist's name and other details.
The collection consists of nine larrakitj, or painted hollow logs, and 113 bark paintings painted between 2011 and 2014 by Mulkun Wirrpanda, a senior female Yolngu artist at Yirrkala in north east Arnhem Land. These works are a product of Wirrpanda's interest in documenting the ecology of her country following her participation in a joint project with non-Indigeous artists, printmakers and academics, charting the country and yam supply at Blue Mud Bay.
The works in this collection provide a unique visual record of Yolngu knowledge of plants and food-bearing and medicinal species. Wirrpanda depicts aspects of the plants' life cycle across numerous works, including the gestational period through to fruiting and the interconnections between the food source and the extensive freshwater flood plains and rivers, beaches, sandhills, salt flats and estuaries in her Yolngu country.
W 320mm x H 195mm x D 45mm