Monday, August 22, 2011

Flying Ant Painting

The round circle of loose sand that signals an ant's nest was a feature of life growing up in Victoria. We would watch out for those ants! They bite! The vibration of walking close would bring angry bull ants out to attack us.

I was reminded of them when I visited the wonderful blog Chandler A to Z and saw this post by Therese.So evocative of my Victorian bushland, even though she is on the other side of the world, in Arizona.

But I was also reminded of something closer to home. Something I could just turn my head to look at! The picture above!

When I was teaching in the Northern Territory I met with green ants, and read about honey ants, and then I was lucky to have an insight to flying ants (termites).  I was teaching at Alekarenge, near Tennant Creek and I saw this picture being painted.

The artists who meticulously painted this picture about their country southwest of Warrego, were Fanny Walker and Sarah Holmes. The point of view is that of looking down on the landscape. They explained to me that the doughnut shapes are the ant holes. All the little lines that make up the background are the tracks of the little bird that has seen the ants beginning to come up and is busy catching and eating them.

When the women notice that they take their long wooden bowls: coolamon, those are the bar shapes in the painting. The women sit crosslegged, which makes the horseshoe shapes, and collect the ants in the coolamon, top them with hot ash, which is enough to cook them, and then winnow the ash off... and feast!

I really miss the beautiful Northern Territory, and I am so glad to have this art on my living room wall, that takes me back to such beautiful country.


  1. How wonderful! I'll get back to it later...

  2. Very unique and innovative art. Looks beautiful. I liked the colour combination.

  3. Joy, it is lovely. It is so nice to have art work that can evoke memory. Ihope you are well. Hugsand blessings...Mary

  4. It is nice to have a painting that reminds you of happy times. I love this kind of painting!
    Lucy xx

  5. The way you discuss ants with such familiarity really awes me. I need to pay closer attention to our local ants, learning to recognize their distinctive differences. Painting them as etegami helps me to be more observant. Thanks for the inspiration!

  6. Thakyou!
    I would love to see what you do after looking at ants DosankoDebbie! I love your work!