Petyarre was born at the remote location of Atnangkere, an important water
soakage for Aboriginal people on the western boundary of Utopia Station,
170 miles north-east of Alice Springs in the Northern Territory of Australia.
Kathleen Petyarre is a highly respected artist from the Utopia region. Beginning
with the batik movement in 1978 and then with painting in 1988 and 89.
Kathleen, with her daughter Margaret and her sisters, settled at Mosquito
Bore, on Utopia Station near her birthplace. Kathleen now spends part of
the year at her residence in Adelaide. Kathleen's mother and seven sisters
have managed to hold onto their land near Utopia Station as a group, establishing
a camp at Boundary Bore. Kathleen was one of the key Anmatyerre women involved
in the successful claim for the freehold title, which led to the 1979 formal
hand-over of the Utopia pastoral lease back to its traditional owners.
When Kathleen was a young child, her paternal grandmother began instructing
her in what is today recognised as Petyarre’s great artistic subject,
the Dreaming narrative of Arnkerrth, the Old Woman Mountain Devil or Thorny
Devil Lizard, Kathleen's Dreaming ancestor. The mountain devil is
a small lizard, which criss crosses the vast terrain around Atnangker country
in a characteristically jerky style, leaving a semi-circular pattern of
tiny tracks. The enormity of its journeys can be seen in the landscape of
Kathleen's works. Arnkerrth feeds on a particular type of ant and is highly
skilled in the art of desert survival, on account of her astonishing capacity
for self-camouflage. Taking on the colours of her immediate surroundings,
whether that is the vibrant red earth of the Centre or the dull-green foliage
of certain bush tucker, Arnkerrth usually succeeds in outwitting predators.
Kathleen, her sisters and brothers are the custodians of Arnkerrth (Mountain
Devil Lizard or Thorny Devil Lizard Dreaming), Green Pea Dreaming, Atnangkerre
(Women Hunting Ankerr (Emu) and Arengk (Dingo) Dreaming). All of her paintings
directly refer to these "Dreamings" and the associated country
around Utopia in the eastern central desert of Australia. Kathleen and her
sisters (they all have the same father and four mothers), Ada Bird Petyarre,
Gloria Petyarre, Nancy Petyarre, Myrtle Petyarre, Violet Petyarre and Jean
Petyarre all paint these Dreamings.
Kathleen worked as an assistant teacher in the Utopia School, near Atnangker
country, from 1969 to 1989. During that time, she began working with batik
in 1978 when the Utopia Batik Programme was formally established with the
aid of Australian Government funding and eventually started painting with
acrylics on canvas in about 1986. Today, Kathleen's work is much sought
after in Australia and overseas at the upper end of the fine art market.
The importance of Kathleen's clan country serves not only as a creation
site but also as a sacred place in which to reconnect to the Dreaming through
ceremonies and initiation rites. Kathleen continues to demonstrate her detailed
accurate knowledge and respect for country through her remarkable paintings,
giving her audience an insight into her ancient world of endless beauty.
· 1996 Joint Second Prize, Open Award Category - The Third National
Aboriginal & Torres Strait Islander Heritage Commission Art Award,
Canberra, ACT., Australia.
· 1996 Overall Winner of the Telstra 13th National Aboriginal &
Torres Strait Islander Art Award, Darwin, NT., Australia.
· 1997 Overall Winner of the Visy Board Art Prize, the Barossa
Vintage Festival Art Show, Nurioopta, SA. Australia.
· 1998 Finalist, 1998 Seppelts Contemporary Art Award - Visual
Art Museum of Contemporary Art, Sydney, NSW Australia.
· 1998 Winner, People's Choice Award, 1998 Seppelts Contemporary
Art Award, Museum of Contemporary Art, Sydney, NSW., Australia.
· 1997 Art Gallery of South Australia, Desert Artists-in-Residence,
Adelaide, South Australia, Australia, January.
· 1997 Museum Puri Lukisan, Ubud, Bali, Indonesia, June.
· 1996 "Kathleen Petyarre - Storm in Aknangkerre Country"
Alcaston House Gallery, Melbourne, Vic., Australia.
· 1998 Arnkerrthe - My Dreaming, Alcaston Gallery, Melbourne, Vic.,
Australia, 24 July - 15 August.
· 1999 Recent Paintings by Kathleen Petyarre, Coo-ee Gallery, Mary
Place, Sydney, NSW., Australia, 4 - 21 November.
· 2000 Landscape: Truth and Beauty, Recent Paintings by Kathleen
Petyarre, Alcaston Gallery, November l 6th - December 6th
· 2000 Kathleen Petyarre, Retrospective Exhibition, Museum of Contemporary
Art, Sydney, NSW., 9th May - 22nd July.
· 2001 Genius of Place. The work of Kathleen Petyarre. Museum of
Contemporary Art, Sydney, NSW., Australia, May - 22nd July.
· 1997 The John McCaughey Memorial Art Prize, National Gallery
of Victoria, Melbourne, Vic., Australia.
· Paintings Collection of H. M. Queen Elizabeth 11 National Gallery
of Australia, Canberra, ACT, Australia
· The Kerry Stokes Collection, Perth, WA, Australia.
· The Museum & Art Galleries of the Northern Territory, Darwin,
· Art Gallery of South Australia, Adelaide, S.A. Australia.
· Flinders University Art Museum, Adelaide, S.A. Australia
· The Kluge-Rhue Collection, University of West Virginia, VA, USA.
· The Kelton Foundation, Los Angeles, CA., USA.
· The Levi-Kaplan Collection, Seattle, WA., USA
· The Morven Estate Collection, Charlottesville, USA
· Peabody - Essex Anthropology and Ethnology Museum, Harvard University,
Salem, Mass., USA.
· Museum Puri Lukisan, Ubud, Bali, Indonesia.
· The Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Commission Collection,
· National Gallery of Victoria, Melbourne, Vic. Australia.
· University of South Australia Art Museum, Adelaide, S.A. Australia.
· Riddoch Regional Art Gallery, Mount Gambier, S.A. Australia.
· Edith Cowan University, Perth, W.A. Australia.
· The Robert Holmes a Court Collection, WA, Australia
· The Barossa Valley Wine and Tourist Association, Nurioopta, Australia
· Collection de Musee des Arts d'Afrique et d'Oceanie, Paris, France.
Prints & Wood-blocks
· The National Gallery of Australia, Canberra, ACT, Australia.
· Museum & Art Galleries of the NT, Darwin, NT., Australia.
· The Robert Holmes a Court Collection, WA, Australia depicted
in a book entitled Utopia – A Picture Story
· National Gallery of Victoria, Melbourne, Australia.
· Museum & Art Galleries of NT, Australia holds a 6m * 3m batik
on Permanent Loan Paintings
· 1996 Seattle Art Museum, Seattle, WA, USA. 1997
· The Art Gallery of Western Australian, Perth, WA, Australia.