Artists of Utopia

Utopia artists from central Australia represent a diverse and innovative group within Aboriginal art with styles that range from expressive to highly detailed dotting.

 

Bush Turkey Story by Cowboy Loy Pwerl

Cowboy Loy Pwerl  |  Bush Turkey Story

Jap 020086  |  acrylic on linen  |  119.5 x 90 cm

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Awelye – Anemangkerr  (Bush Melon) by Minnie Pwerle

Minnie Pwerle  |  Awelye – Anemangkerr (Bush Melon)

Jap 020274  |  acrylic on linen  |  122 x 92 cm

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Desert Wildflowers by Bernadine Johnson

Bernadine Johnson  |  Desert Wildflowers

Jap 020340  |  acrylic on canvas  |  173 x 120 cm

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Mother’s Country by Barbara Weir

Barbara Weir  |  Mother’s Country

Jap 019022  |  acrylic on canvas  |  180 x 122 cm

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Bush Plum Dreaming by Kate Pitjara

Kate Pitjara  |  Bush Plum Dreaming

Jap 018509  |  acrylic on canvas  |  198 x 109 cm

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Bush Medicine Leaves by Bernadine Johnson

Bernadine Johnson  |  Bush Medicine Leaves

Jap 020502  |  acrylic on canvas  |  199 x 95 cm

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Awelye – Body Paint by Charmaine Pwerle

Charmaine Pwerle  |  Awelye – Body Paint

Jap 019596  |  acrylic on linen  |  148 x 60 cm

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Bush Turkey Dreaming by Cowboy Loy Pwerl

Cowboy Loy Pwerl  |  Bush Turkey Dreaming

Jap 015145  |  acrylic on linen  |  60 x 60 cm

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Ankerre – Emu Dreaming at Alhalkere by Kudditji Kngwarreye

Kudditji Kngwarreye  |  Ankerre – Emu Dreaming at Alhalkere

Jap 000585  |  acrylic on linen  |  177 x 137 cm

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Bush Medicine Leaves by Jeannie Petyarre

Jeannie Petyarre  |  Bush Medicine Leaves

Jap 018835  |  acrylic on canvas  |  120 x 91 cm

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Bush Medicine Leaves by Roseanne Pwerle Morton

Roseanne Pwerle Morton  |  Bush Medicine Leaves

Jap 019162  |  acrylic on canvas  |  158 x 78 cm

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Bush Yam – My Country by Belinda Golder Kngwarreye

Belinda Golder Kngwarreye  |  Bush Yam – My Country

Jap 019335  |  acrylic on canvas  |  200x 100 cm

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Bush Medicine Leaves by Gloria Petyarre

Gloria Petyarre  |  Bush Medicine Leaves

Jap 014908  |  acrylic on canvas  |  239 x 152 cm

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Country – Fire Series by Kudditji Kngwarreye

Kudditji Kngwarreye  |  Country – Fire Series

Jap 005456  |  acrylic on linen  |  210 x 153 cm

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Mountain Devil Lizard Dreaming by Gloria Petyarre

Gloria Petyarre  |  Mountain Devil Lizard Dreaming

Jap 015882  |  acrylic on linen  |  148 x 94 cm

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Bush Yam – My Country by Janet Golder Kngwarreye

Janet Golder Kngwarreye  |  Bush Yam – My Country

Jap 020485  |  acrylic on canvas  |  149 x 90 cm

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Bush Plum Dreaming by Polly Ngale

Polly Ngale  |  Bush Plum Dreaming

Jap 016620  |  acrylic on linen  |  180 x 120 cm

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Awelye – Body Paint by Charmaine Pwerle

Charmaine Pwerle  |  Awelye – Body Paint

Jap 019592  |  acrylic on linen  |  181 x 121 cm

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Ankerre – Emu Dreaming at Alhalkere by Kudditji Kngwarreye

Kudditji Kngwarreye  |  Ankerre – Emu Dreaming at Alhalkere

Jap 000564  |  acrylic on linen  |  117 x 114 cm

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Bush Medicine Leaf by Gloria Petyarre

Gloria Petyarre  |  Bush Medicine Leaf

Jap 019871  |  acrylic on linen  |  200 x 127 cm

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Bush Plum Dreaming by Gracie Morton Pwerle

Gracie Morton Pwerle  |  Bush Plum Dreaming

Jap 019814  |  acrylic on canvas  |  200 x 90 cm

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My Country by Kudditji Kngwarreye

Kudditji Kngwarreye  |  My Country

Jap 012890  |  acrylic on linen  |  122 x 122 cm

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Bush Yam by Jeannie Mills Pwerle

Jeannie Mills Pwerle  |  Bush Yam

Jap 019817  |  acrylic on canvas  |  197 x 90 cm

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Bush Medicine Leaves by Bernadine Johnson

Bernadine Johnson  |  Bush Medicine Leaves

Jap 019494  |  acrylic on canvas  |  93 x 87 cm

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Country – Fire Series by Kudditji Kngwarreye

Kudditji Kngwarreye  |  Country – Fire Series

Jap 005454  |  acrylic on linen  |  180 x 120 cm

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Anmatyerre Traditional Stories – Mens Ceremony by Raymond Walters Japanangka

Raymond Walters Japanangka  |  Anmatyerre Traditional Stories – Mens Ceremony

Jap 016332  |  acrylic on linen  |  152 x 93 cm

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Yam Leaf by Dulcie Long Pwerle

Dulcie Long Pwerle  |  Yam Leaf

Jap 018836  |  acrylic on canvas  |  117 x 90 cm

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Bush Plum Dreaming by Belinda Golder Kngwarreye

Belinda Golder Kngwarreye  |  Bush Plum Dreaming

Jap 018571  |  acrylic on canvas  |  202 x 90 cm

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Bush Medicine Leaves by Bernadine Johnson

Bernadine Johnson  |  Bush Medicine Leaves

Jap 018502  |  acrylic on canvas  |  90 x 90 cm

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Rainbow Country by Ruby Morton Kngwarray

Ruby Morton Kngwarray  |  Rainbow Country

Jap 020107  |  acrylic on linen  |  117 x 92.5 cm

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Bush Yam by Jeannie Mills Pwerle

Jeannie Mills Pwerle  |  Bush Yam

Jap 019813  |  acrylic on canvas  |  197 x 90 cm

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Rainbow Country by Ruby Morton Kngwarray

Ruby Morton Kngwarray  |  Rainbow Country

Jap 020108  |  acrylic on linen  |  120 x 92 cm

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Bush Medicine Leaves by Gracie Morton Pwerle

Gracie Morton Pwerle  |  Bush Medicine Leaves

Jap 019282  |  acrylic on canvas  |  60 x 45 cm

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Untitled by Genevieve Kemarr Loy

Genevieve Kemarr Loy  |  Untitled

Jap 020099  |  acrylic on linen  |  95 x 119 cm

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Bush Seed Dreaming by Kathleen Petyarre

Kathleen Petyarre  |  Bush Seed Dreaming

Jap 019872  |  acrylic on linen  |  180 x 120 cm

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Untitled by Lucky Morton Kngwarray

Lucky Morton Kngwarray  |  Untitled

Jap 020105  |  acrylic on linen  |  120 x 95 cm

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Bush Yam – Mother’s Country by Naomi Price Pwerle

Naomi Price Pwerle  |  Bush Yam – Mother’s Country

Jap 018821  |  acrylic on canvas  |  122 x 91 cm

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Entibera Awelye by Joy Kngwarreye

Joy Kngwarreye  |  Entibera Awelye

Jap 000326  |  acrylic on linen  |  100 x 120 cm, triptych

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Bush Plum Dreaming by Belinda Golder Kngwarreye

Belinda Golder Kngwarreye  |  Bush Plum Dreaming

Jap 019440  |  acrylic on canvas  |  280 x 190 cm

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Bush Medicine Leaves by Bernadine Johnson

Bernadine Johnson  |  Bush Medicine Leaves

Jap 015424  |  acrylic on linen  |  90 x 60 cm

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Untitled by Sarah Morton Kngwarray

Sarah Morton Kngwarray  |  Untitled

Jap 020110  |  acrylic on linen  |  91 x 119 cm

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Bush Plum Dreaming by Belinda Golder Kngwarreye

Belinda Golder Kngwarreye  |  Bush Plum Dreaming

Jap 018574  |  acrylic on canvas  |  200 x 89 cm

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Untitled by Elizabeth Kunoth Kngwarray

Elizabeth Kunoth Kngwarray  |  Untitled

Jap 020093  |  acrylic on linen  |  122 x 92 cm

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Bush Yam – Mother’s Country by Naomi Price Pwerle

Naomi Price Pwerle  |  Bush Yam – Mother’s Country

Jap 018820  |  acrylic on canvas  |  122 x 61 cm

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Yam Seed by Roseanne Pwerle Morton

Roseanne Pwerle Morton  |  Yam Seed

Jap 019810  |  acrylic on canvas  |  90 x 60 cm

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Awelye and Bush Melon by Betty Mbitjana

Betty Mbitjana   |  Awelye and Bush Melon

Jap 008311  |  acrylic on linen  |  120 x 120 cm

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Who Are the Artists of Utopia?

The Artists of Utopia are a large group of Australian Aboriginal artists who work on the Utopia Homelands, located 270 km north-east of Alice Springs in the Eastern Desert. These artists represent a diversity of style and technique, that remains unique in the world of contemporary Australian Aboriginal art.

Where do the Artists of Utopia come from?

The people at Utopia are the Eastern Anmatyarre and Alyawarre language groups, who had lived and worked on the cattle stations on their lands since white settlement in 1927. The area, occupying 1800 square kilometres of desert country, was the ancestral country of their forebears, where the family clans had lived for millennia.

What are the origins of the Artists of Utopia contemporary art movement?

One of the founding influences was the preparation done with the women artists when they were in the process of applying for freehold tenure and control of their traditional lands. In 1978, educators Toly Sawkeno and Jenny Green, created the Batik Project to teach local women craft skills that could provide income for the group and demonstrate commercial initiative that might support the upcoming land claim.

The artists lived in a number of outstations across the Utopia Homelands, based on family clan groups who chose to live in specific locations. They came together to support the batik initiative. They soon established a reputation for creating beautiful silk batiks that represented the vital stories of their lands. In 1981, the artists were featured at the Adelaide Art Festival, in an exhibition titled ‘Floating Forests of Silk:  Utopia Batik from the Desert’.

The Batik Project produced many skilled artists who shared family group designs and technical skills while developing their own special approach to their art. The next step happened in 1988-89 when the artists made their first paintings on canvas and exhibited them in the Sydney exhibition ‘The Summer Project:  Utopia Women’s Paintings’ at the S.H. Ervin Gallery. Although these were smaller scale works and limited to four basic colours – black, white, yellow ochre and red ochre – the exhibition established the artists on a remarkable path to artistic success.

Who Are The Most Famous Artists from the Artists of Utopia?

Pre-eminent amongst the group was Emily Kame Kngwarreye who established new possibilities for contemporary Aboriginal painting. By deconstructing the layering technique used in batik, the artists began to use elements of the total designs to create new images and art styles. Others artists established their own styles including Gloria Petyarre, Kathleen Petyarre, Nancy Petyarre, Ada Bird, Barbara Weir, Greenie Purvis and Kudditji Kngwarreye.

Their legacy was to create an openness of style and approach that allowed hundreds of other artists from the Utopia clan groups to expand on their artistic work in a multi-generational art movement that has maintained its energy and diversity.

Do Australian Aboriginal Utopian Artists Use Body Paint Designs?

As well as the artists influenced by batiks, another group used broad gestural mark making that related to body paint designs or markings on country. These artists used strong colour and expressive movement to enliven their canvases. Artists from this group include Minnie Pwerle and Kudditji Kngwarreye, although many other artists used this style of working for particular subjects. We could add Barbara Weir, Gloria Petyarre, Betty Mbitjana and Galya Pwerle to this list.

What Are The Dreaming Stories Artists of Utopia Paint About?

Stories with strong ceremonial associations for the women artists of Utopia became a major focus for painting. These stories include Yam Dreaming, Bush Medicine Leaves and Awelye Body Paint were widely interpreted by the artists.

View Artists:

Gloria Petyarre

Kudditji Kngwarreye

Abie Loy Kemarre

Polly Ngale

Minnie Pwerle

Gracie Morton Pwerle

Janet Golder Kngwarreye

Jeannie Mills Pwerle

Betty Mbitjana (Mpetyane)

Lanita Numina Napanangka

View Exhibitions:

2021 Utopia Aboriginal Art

2018 Painting on Country – Utopia Artists

2015 Camel Camp & Beyond – Utopia Artists of the Eastern Desert

Read:

Art & Life at Camel Camp on Utopia Homelands

Utopia Artists Painting on Country Exhibiting at Japingka

Aboriginal Art Movement at Utopia

Camel Camp and Beyond: Utopian Artists of the Central Desert