Upper Secondary

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Upper Secondary

Several of the artists in Replant draw relationships between things, i.e. plants and insects, 

history and stories, plants and traditional craft practice. Choose two of these artists and write 

a paragraph about how each artist does this. What do you think is the intention of their 


Make drawings of your favourite works. Make notes about techniques and colours used. 

Think about your own environment and how you might create an art work which responds 

to your surroundings.

Having thought about Replant, what roles do you think each of the following have played in 

the presentation and interpretation of this exhibition?

•  The artist

•  The gallery

•  The project coordinator

•  The ethno botanist

•  The printmaker

•  The photographer

•  Yourself, as viewer 

Write two or three sentences about the parts played by each of these exhibition participants.

What do you think is the role of art galleries in showing an exhibition like Replant?

Exhibition report

Make notes on the following:

•  The title of the exhibition

•  The printing technique (see Project Notes for information)

•  Where the artists come from

•  What the art works have in common

•  Your favourite work

Back in the classroom

•  Research the artists

•  Find out about the history of printmaking by Aboriginal artists in Australia

•  Find out about herbaria and what they do.

Look at traditional forms of botanical drawing.

What makes a botanical illustration?

What is the difference between a scientific drawing and a work of art?

Welcome to Replant

Exercise 1

Exercise 4

Exercise 3

Exercise 5

Have a good look around the exhibition. Discuss the works with your friends, then consider one or more of the 

following questions.

Exercise 2

Exercise 6

Activity Sheet 1



Upper Secondary

Activity Sheet 2/1

Find the following works in the exhibition, read about the work and discuss the ideas and concepts with the class.


Welcome to Replant

Deborah Wurrkidj 

Pandanus Weaving

The Spring Pandanus (also sometimes referred to as the Screw 

Palm), Pandanus spiralis, is one of  the most conspicuous and 

useful plants in north Australia. The Kunwinjku name for 

Pandanus is kundayarr.

Pandanus is an important food resource and provides different 

types of  food from the seed, fruit, cabbage and peduncle. It is 

also used for a range of  medicinal purposes including treating 

headaches, toothache, infected wounds, diarrhoea, mouth and 

throat sores, ulcers, back pain and many other afflictions. It is 

also used as fish poison, to make rafts, toys, didgeridoos, ropes, 

as a dye, to light fires, to carry fires, and as a totem for some 


However, this classical interpretation of  Pandanus is based on 

its iconic use as a base for fibrecrafts by an artist steeped in 

contemporary fibrecraft expertise and coming from a line of  

famous fibrecraft artists. Deborah’s deceased grandfather was a 

renowned fish-trap artisan whose works are displayed in many 

museums and galleries in Australia and overseas.

Glenn Wightman

Irene Mungatopi  

Pink Beach Apple

The Red Bush AppleSyzygium suborbiculare, is a common and 

well known bush tucker in north Australia, however, a rare 

form occurs in coastal areas on the Tiwi Islands and some other 

coastal areas. It has pink fruit that are particularly tasty, it is 

called pinyama, the Pink Beach Apple. The fruit are produced 

during Jamutakari, the wet season, and sometimes they are 

produced in profusion. They are one of  the most important 

Tiwi bush foods.

The shape of  the pinyama fruit as interpreted by Irene are very 

similar to the shape of  the traditional, uniquely Tiwi fighting 

clubs produced by senior Tiwi men. In the past these clubs were 

deadly weapons used in hand-to-hand combat by Tiwi warriors, 

but now they are mainly prepared for sale to tourists visiting the 

Tiwi Islands.

Glenn Wightman

Winsome Jobling  

Spear Grass 

Spear Grass or Sarga intrans, previously Sorghum intrans, is one 

of  the most common and important grasses in the western Top 

End of  the Northern Territory.

During the mid to late wet season Spear Grass is the 

characteristic feature of  the savanna habitats, when its stems 

dominate the lower levels of  the vegetation profile. In the later 

parts of  the wet season, which coincided with our field trip to 

Nauiyu, the stems began to dry out and the colours and tones of  

the drying stems and leaves were stunning and inescapable; they 

are literally in your face whenever you walk through the bush.

Spear Grass is also critically important for Aboriginal people as 

the stems provide a large proportion of  the annual fuel load of  

dry grass that is burnt early in the dry season. Burning grass is an 

essential element of  land management for traditional custodians 

and is likened to ‘cleaning up’ or providing medicine or fertiliser 

for country after the heavy rains. Fire is seen as providing balance 

to savanna landscapes after the cloudiness, dampness and often 

floods of  the wet season. Without the volume of  fuel provided by 

the Spear Grass stems this fire cleansing would not be possible. 

Spear Grass seeds and stems also provide a large amount of  

organic matter every season and it is one of  the most efficient 

and important energy converters in the savanna habitat. The 

seeds and stems provide food and shelter for many animals, 

mainly invertebrates, in savanna habitats. 

As a plant it is incredibly well adapted to the wet-dry tropics 

annual period of  aridity, when it survives as a seed bank on the 

ground. It then takes advantage of  the pre-wet humidity build-

up, which causes the seed awns to absorb moisture and twist. 

This drives the seeds into the ground so that they are ready to 

germinate with the first rains and not be washed away. Once 

germinated, the leaves are produced to begin photosynthesis, this 

powers the stems to elongate quickly and get the seeds as high as 

possible to aid dispersal. 

Winsome has captured the essence of  two of  the principal 

characteristics of  Spear Grass in her prints, the seeds and the 


Glenn Wightman.


Upper Secondary

Activity Sheet 2/2

Welcome to Replant

Judy Watson

bat-wing coral tree

The twin leaves depicted are from the normally trifoliate 

compound leaf  of  the Bat-wing Coral Tree, Erythrina vespertilio

however, in this case the third, terminal leaflet was missing. 

The leaf  was from the tree growing near the entrance to the 

Merrepen Art Centre at Nauiyu. This tree produces red flowers 

and bright, hard, kidney-shaped, red seeds. These seeds are used 

in drier parts of  Australia to make long, heavy necklaces; these 

have special significance for Aboriginal women. In the past the 

black fine ash from the burnt corky bark was rubbed onto the 

skin of  pale-skinned babies to darken it, so that welfare officers 

would not take them away. This plant also has a number of  

other uses, including the wood for woomera shafts and the large 

taproot as food.

The scientific name Erythrina is derived from the Greek word 

erythros, and refers to the red flowers and seeds, which are so 

distinctive for this species.

The small dark round dots on the print are formed using the 

seed of  the Red Bean Tree, Adenanthera pavonina. The hard, 

red seeds from this species are also used to make necklaces by 

some coastal Aboriginal groups in north Australia. The seed 

interior can be eaten, though the hard red shell is considered 

toxic and is difficult to break.

Glenn Wightman

Marita Sambono


Two of  the most important aquatic plants for Aboriginal 

people in north Australia are depicted; above the water-line the 

emergent leaves of  the Red Lotus Lily, Nelumbo nucifera, and on 

the water surface, the floating leaves and flowers of  the Water-

lily, Nymphaea macrosperma.

The Red Lotus Lily is called miwulngini, it has a number of  uses. 

The large green ‘seeds’ (actually fruit) are eaten raw or lightly 

roasted; they are very good to eat and occur in large numbers in 

the mid dry season. The roots are also eaten after roasting and 

they are used as medicine to treat constipation. The new leaf  

shoots are eaten raw. The large concave leaves can be used as 

a hat, as camouflage when hunting in the billabong or to carry 

water and to wrap food when cooking.

This species is considered sacred in India, Tibet and China being 

the padma devoted to Brahma (sacred red colour), cultivated 

throughout south east Asia for food; ‘seeds’ remain viable for 

several hundred years in river mud.

Marita Sambono

Water-lilies (continued)

The Water-lily is called minimindi, it also has a number of  

uses. The fruit contain many small oily seeds that can be eaten 

raw or lightly roasted, they are very tasty. The flower stems 

called mintyangari, are also excellent bush tucker and taste like 

celery. The tubers are used as food and are also used to treat 

constipation. The flowers can also be eaten.

Collecting Water-lily fruits is one of  the favorite activities of  

senior women at the Daly River. The fruit are found on the 

bottom of  billabongs, as the fruit swell with seeds they get heavy 

and fall to the bottom. The fruit are located with the feet while 

slowly walking through the water.

Glenn Wightman


Fiona Hall 

Green Ant Nest

The leaves of  Ghost Gum, Corymbia bella (previously Eucalyptus 

papuana) have been formed into a Green Ant nest; this is unusual 

as larger, broader leaves are generally preferred by Green Ants.

The Ghost Gum is an important plant, it is called yerrik by 

MalakMalak speakers. It is used for firewood as it burns slowly 

and evenly, the bark is burnt and applied to swellings on knees 

and legs to reduce the swelling, sugarbag (native beehives) are 

often found in hollows and water can be found in swellings on 

the trunk. Many other Aboriginal groups use the burnt bark as 

an additive for chewing tobacco, where it improves the flavour 

and potentiates the tobacco.

Green Ants, Oecophylla smaragdina, are used as medicine by 

MalakMalak people and are called pirrinykam. The nest is 

crushed in the hands and the juice is rubbed over the skin; 

this also stops the skin from feeling itchy. The large mother or 

queen ants are eaten to treat colds and influenza; they have a 

sharp taste. Many other Aboriginal groups also use these ants 

as medicine and food. The green abdomen of  workers can be 

eaten; it has a pleasant tangy taste caused by the formic acid they 

contain, which has medicinal properties as a mild expectorant 

and antimicrobial. 

Glenn Wightman


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