Jima Jima (Waterlily)

Jimi jima is similar to what is commonly known as a waterlily (monochoria australasica). The plant is mainly associated with a waterhole named Yalija, but also other sacred waterholes in the Wurdeja area. This painting of jima jima depicts the lily as it exists naturally in wet water areas at Wurdeja. They have an edible root, which is brownish and bitter when raw, but once roasted on coals it is deliciously sweet. They are only found in sacred waterholes in the Wurdeja area, including Yalija, and humans and spirits live off them. They are a bright blue flowering plant.

Fiona Steele is the daughter of the late Tommy Gondorra Steele, the last male member of the Garnawula Niya clan who lived at Wurdeja outstation, about four kilometres east of the Blyth River, and who was the traditional owner of that area. Wurdeja is surrounded by a series of sacred waterholes and it is these waterholes, which provide the subject matter for Steele’s art.