Grass Seed Dreaming by Galya Pwerle (c. 1930 - )

Before cattle were introduced to Utopia station, the country in the vicinity was plentiful with a grass (Portulaca oleracea) which the indigenous people have used as a vital food source for generation after generation.

The grass produces a tiny black seed which Galya paints as half-circle shapes arranged symmetrically all over her canvases.

The indigenous people use the seeds in a number of ways. The seeds can be placed on a flat rock and ground with a stone to make flour for bread or cookies. Alternatively, the flour can be mixed with water to make a cordial for drinking.

After almost a century of cattle grazing, the grass which produced the seed is no longer as plentiful as it was before white settlement.

The seeds are the subject of one of the dreaming stories that have been told and re-told by the Pwerle sisters’ ancestors. The sisters learned about the seeds while they sat with the old people and watched them draw the story on to the ground.

In her paintings, Galya paints only the seed which for so long sustained her and the other indigenous people of the area.