Skinny Bush Banana by Nola Napangardi Fisher
Artist: Nola Napangardi Fisher
Title: Skinny Bush Banana
Size: 46 x 46cm
Medium: Acrylic on Canvas
- Art Centre: Warlukurlangu Artists
Nola Napangardi Fisher was born in 1958 in Yuendumu, a remote Aboriginal community located 290 km north-west of Alice Springs in the Central Desert of Australia. She went to the local school and has completed further studies in Health at Batchelor College, Darwin. In 1995 Nola received a Department of Health Certificate of Appreciation for 10 Years Service. In her early years of her career she ran the health clinic in Nyirripi and now works for the Department of Health in Yuendumu. She was married and has three children, one daughter and two son and many grandchildren. Nola has been painting with Warlukurlangu Artists Aboriginal Corporation, an Aboriginal owned and governed art centre in Yuendumu, since 2004. Nola paints Ngurlu Jukurrpa (Native Seed Dreaming),Karnta Jukurrpa (Women’s Dreaming), Yurrampi Jukurrpa (Honey Ant Dreaming) and Yuparli Jukurrpa (Bush Banana Dreaming) from her father’s side and Janganpa Jukurrpa (Possum Dreaming) from her mother’s side, as well as several sites that have belonged to her family for millennia. All the stories relate directly to the food, animals and features of her traditional country. Nola still regularly likes to go out with a group of women to collect these traditional foods. Nola likes to paint colourful representations of her Jukurrpa stories, stories she would like to pass down to her grandchildren. She would also like to pass down her stories to non-Aboriginal people so that they will better understand the Aboriginal ways. “When I’m on holidays I sometimes paint and sell my paintings to tourists in the city so that they will hear my stories.”
Purrpalanji (Skinny Bush Banana) Jukurrpa
‘Purrpalanji’ (skinny bush banana [Rhyncharrhena linearis]) is a twining climber with thin leaves and pink-brown flowers. Its bean-like edible pods are long and skinny, and can grow up to 20 cm long. It is fire tolerant and grows quickly whenever moisture is available. Like ‘yuparli’ (bush banana [Marsdenia australis]), all of the plant is eaten aside from the woody stems.
This ‘purrpalanji Jukurrpa’ (skinny bush banana Dreaming) comes from Pikilyi (Vaughan Springs), a large waterhole and natural spring to the west of Yuendumu, close to Mount Doreen. Napangardi/Napanangka women and Japangardi/Japanangka men are the ‘kirda’ (owners) of the skinny bush banana Dreaming at Pikilyi. Nangala women and Jangala men are the ‘kurdungurlu’ (custodians) of this Dreaming.
Napangardi and Napanangka women collect ‘purrpalanji’ (skinny bush banana) and ‘yuparli’ (bush banana) around Pikilyi in their ‘parraja’ (coolamons). They cook the ‘purrpalanji’ and ‘yuparli’ in hot ashes to get rid of the acidic taste they can have when eaten raw. The skinny bush banana Dreaming is only associated with Pikilyi, and does not travel to other locations. Pikilyi is an important site associated with a number of different Dreamings. These include ‘yuparli Jukurrpa’ (bush banana Dreaming), ‘warrilyi ngurlu Jukurrpa’ (blue mallee [Eucalyptus polybractea] seed Dreaming), ‘kakalyalya Jukurrpa’ (cockatoo Dreaming), and ‘warna-jarra Jukurrpa’ (two snakes Dreaming). In the two snakes Dreaming story, Napangardi and Napanangka women picked lice off of the two snakes living in the waterhole at Pikilyi.
In Warlpiri paintings, traditional iconography is used to represent the Jukurrpa and other elements. Curved lines are used to represent the long, skinny edible portion of the ‘purrpalanji’ (skinny bush banana).