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.

 

Anaty – Bush Yam by Jeannie Mills Pwerle

Jeannie Mills Pwerle  |  Anaty – Bush Yam

Jap 016054  |  acrylic on canvas  |  120 x 120 cm

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Anaty – Bush Yam by Jeannie Mills Pwerle

Jeannie Mills Pwerle  |  Anaty – Bush Yam

Jap 016056  |  acrylic on canvas  |  122 x 91 cm

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Bush Plum Dreaming by Belinda Golder

Belinda Golder  |  Bush Plum Dreaming

Jap 016740  |  acrylic on canvas  |  143 x 95 cm

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Bush Yam – Mothers Country by Naomi Price Petyarre

Naomi Price Petyarre  |  Bush Yam – Mothers Country

Jap 016591  |  acrylic on canvas  |  61 x 61 cm

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Bush Yam – Mothers Country by Naomi Price Petyarre

Naomi Price Petyarre  |  Bush Yam – Mothers Country

Jap 016592  |  acrylic on canvas  |  71 x 56 cm

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Sandhills and River Bed Country by Delvine Petyarre

Delvine Petyarre  |  Sandhills and River Bed Country

Jap 016526  |  acrylic on canvas  |  90 x 60 cm

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Bush Medicine Leaves by Jeannie Petyarre

Jeannie Petyarre  |  Bush Medicine Leaves

Jap 016605  |  acrylic on canvas  |  71 x 56 cm

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Awelye – Anemangkerr – Bush Melon by Minnie Pwerle

Minnie Pwerle   |  Awelye – Anemangkerr – Bush Melon

Jap 016691  |  acrylic on canvas  |  123 x 111 cm

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My Country by Anna Petyarre

Anna Petyarre  |  My Country

Jap 015549  |  acrylic on linen  |  182 x 151 cm

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Bush Turkey Dreaming by Cowboy Loy Pwerle

Cowboy Loy Pwerle  |  Bush Turkey Dreaming

Jap 015426  |  acrylic on linen  |  90 x 75 cm

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Bush Medicine Leaves by Abie Loy Kemarre

Abie Loy Kemarre  |  Bush Medicine Leaves

Jap 015716  |  acrylic on linen  |  122 x 91 cm

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Bush Yam – Mothers Country by Naomi Price Petyarre

Naomi Price Petyarre  |  Bush Yam – Mothers Country

Jap 016546  |  acrylic on canvas  |  120 x 92 cm

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Anaty – Bush Yam by Jeannie Mills Pwerle

Jeannie Mills Pwerle  |  Anaty – Bush Yam

Jap 016166  |  acrylic on canvas  |  141 x 94 cm

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Bush Medicine Leaves by Gracie Morton Pwerle

Gracie Morton Pwerle  |  Bush Medicine Leaves

Jap 016711  |  acrylic on canvas  |  60 x 45 cm

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Pencil Yam Seed by Eileen Bird Kngwarreye

Eileen Bird Kngwarreye  |  Pencil Yam Seed

Jap 016714  |  acrylic on canvas  |  90 x 60 cm

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Bush Plum Dreaming by Gracie Morton Pwerle

Gracie Morton Pwerle  |  Bush Plum Dreaming

Jap 016717  |  acrylic on canvas  |  196 x 109 cm

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Bush Plum Dreaming by Polly Ngale

Polly Ngale  |  Bush Plum Dreaming

Jap 016618  |  acrylic on linen  |  180 x 120 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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Bush Medicine Leaves by Rosemary Petyarre

Rosemary Petyarre  |  Bush Medicine Leaves

Jap 012868  |  acrylic on linen  |  60 x 60 cm

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My Country by Kudditji Kngwarreye

Kudditji Kngwarreye  |  My Country

Jap 012246  |  acrylic on linen  |  150 x 120 cm

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Bush Medicine Leaves by Rosemary Petyarre

Rosemary Petyarre  |  Bush Medicine Leaves

Jap 013318  |  acrylic on linen  |  190 x 120 cm

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Bush Plum Dreaming by Polly Ngale

Polly Ngale  |  Bush Plum Dreaming

Jap 015761  |  acrylic on canvas  |  214 x 149 cm

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Bush Leaves by Rosemary Petyarre

Rosemary Petyarre  |  Bush Leaves

Jap 013347  |  acrylic on linen  |  189 x 120 cm

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Bush Yam – My Country by Janet Golder Kngwarreye

Janet Golder Kngwarreye  |  Bush Yam – My Country

Jap 016534  |  acrylic on canvas  |  147 x 90 cm

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Bush Plum Dreaming by Janet Golder Kngwarreye

Janet Golder Kngwarreye  |  Bush Plum Dreaming

Jap 015414  |  acrylic on canvas   |  148 x 91 cm

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Bush Leaves by Rosemary Petyarre

Rosemary Petyarre  |  Bush Leaves

Jap 013349  |  acrylic on linen  |  150 x 90 cm

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Bush Medicine Leaves by Rosemary Petyarre

Rosemary Petyarre  |  Bush Medicine Leaves

Jap 013348  |  acrylic on linen  |  150 x 90 cm

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Bush Plum by Polly Ngale

Polly Ngale  |  Bush Plum

Jap 010332  |  acrylic on linen  |  150 x 60 cm

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Bush Medicine Leaves by Gloria Petyarre

Gloria Petyarre  |  Bush Medicine Leaves

Jap 012906  |  acrylic on linen  |  298 x 146 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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Sandhills and River Bed Country by Anna Petyarre

Anna Petyarre  |  Sandhills and River Bed Country

Jap 014898  |  acrylic on linen  |  119 x 60 cm

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Ankerre – Emu Dreaming at Alhalkere by Kudditji Kngwarreye

Kudditji Kngwarreye  |  Ankerre – Emu Dreaming at Alhalkere

Jap 000591  |  acrylic on linen  |  194 x 176 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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Bush Plum Dreaming by Belinda Golder Kngwarreye

Belinda Golder Kngwarreye  |  Bush Plum Dreaming

Jap 015355  |  acrylic on canvas   |  181 x 90 cm

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Bush Yam Seed by Rosemary Petyarre

Rosemary Petyarre  |  Bush Yam Seed

Jap 005438  |  acrylic on linen  |  120 x 90 cm

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Ankerre – Emu Dreaming at Alhalkere by Kudditji Kngwarreye

Kudditji Kngwarreye  |  Ankerre – Emu Dreaming at Alhalkere

Jap 004069  |  acrylic on linen  |  139 x 119 cm

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Bush Medicine Leaves by Rosemary Petyarre

Rosemary Petyarre  |  Bush Medicine Leaves

Jap 012322  |  acrylic on linen  |  60 x 46 cm

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Bush Medicine Leaves by Abie Loy Kemarre

Abie Loy Kemarre  |  Bush Medicine Leaves

Jap 012177  |  acrylic on linen  |  100 x 95 cm

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Yam Dreaming by Anna Petyarre

Anna Petyarre  |  Yam Dreaming

Jap 011194  |  acrylic on linen  |  182 x 121 cm

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My Country by Anna Petyarre

Anna Petyarre  |  My Country

Jap 010863  |  acrylic on linen  |  90 x 90 cm

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Bush Medicine Leaves by Abie Loy Kemarre

Abie Loy Kemarre  |  Bush Medicine Leaves

Jap 012193  |  acrylic on linen  |  97 x 96 cm

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Bush Plum Dreaming by Gracie Morton Pwerle

Gracie Morton Pwerle  |  Bush Plum Dreaming

Jap 016168  |  acrylic on canvas  |  97 x 89 cm

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Awelye – Body Paint by Betty Mbitjana

Betty Mbitjana  |  Awelye – Body Paint

Jap 010971  |  acrylic on canvas  |  183 x 149 cm

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Awelye & Bush Melon by Betty Mbitjana

Betty Mbitjana  |  Awelye & Bush Melon

Jap 010318  |  acrylic on linen  |  120 x 90 cm

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Bush Medicine Leaves by Gloria Petyarre

Gloria Petyarre  |  Bush Medicine Leaves

Jap 012636  |  acrylic on linen  |  204 x 139 cm

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Bush Hen Dreaming by Abie Loy Kemarre

Abie Loy Kemarre  |  Bush Hen Dreaming

Jap 011857  |  acrylic on linen  |  100 x 100 cm

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Bush Medicine Leaves by Gracie Morton Pwerle

Gracie Morton Pwerle  |  Bush Medicine Leaves

Jap 016532  |  acrylic on canvas  |  93 x 89 cm

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Awelye by Betty Mbitjana

Betty Mbitjana  |  Awelye

Jap 014903  |  acrylic on linen  |  149 x 120 cm

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My Country by Kudditji Kngwarreye

Kudditji Kngwarreye  |  My Country

Jap 016065  |  acrylic on linen  |  150 x 90 cm

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Alhalkere – My Country by Kudditji Kngwarreye

Kudditji Kngwarreye  |  Alhalkere – My Country

Jap 000592  |  acrylic on linen  |  194 x 177 cm

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Mountain Devil Lizard Dreaming by Gracie Morton Pwerle

Gracie Morton Pwerle  |  Mountain Devil Lizard Dreaming

Jap 016529  |  acrylic on canvas  |  94 x 91 cm

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Mountain Devil Lizard Dreaming by Gracie Morton Pwerle

Gracie Morton Pwerle  |  Mountain Devil Lizard Dreaming

Jap 016530  |  acrylic on canvas  |  94 x 91 cm

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Sandhills and River Bed Country by Anna Petyarre

Anna Petyarre  |  Sandhills and River Bed Country

Jap 014496  |  acrylic on linen  |  90 x 90 cm

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Awelye by Betty Mbitjana

Betty Mbitjana  |  Awelye

Jap 013083  |  acrylic on linen  |  122 x 91 cm

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Sandhills and River Bed Country by Anna Petyarre

Anna Petyarre  |  Sandhills and River Bed Country

Jap 014925  |  acrylic on linen  |  90 x 60 cm

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Awelye Atnwengerrp by Emily Pwerle

Emily Pwerle  |  Awelye Atnwengerrp

Jap 004528  |  acrylic on linen  |  70 x 55 cm

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Hunting for Bushtucker by Gracie Morton Pwerle

Gracie Morton Pwerle  |  Hunting for Bushtucker

Jap 016468  |  acrylic on canvas  |  95 x 87 cm

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Bush Turkey Dreaming by Genevieve Kemarr Loy

Genevieve Kemarr Loy  |  Bush Turkey Dreaming

Jap 015296  |  acrylic on linen  |  121 x 61 cm

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Untitled by Emily Kame Kngwarreye

Emily Kame Kngwarreye  |  Untitled

Jap 010494  |  acrylic on linen  |  151 x 90 cm

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Anaty – Bush Yam by Jeannie Mills Pwerle

Jeannie Mills Pwerle  |  Anaty – Bush Yam

Jap 013969  |  acrylic on linen  |  91 x 50 cm

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Bush Medicine Leaves by Gloria Petyarre

Gloria Petyarre  |  Bush Medicine Leaves

Jap 011867  |  acrylic on linen  |  180 x 60 cm

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Awelye by Betty Mbitjana

Betty Mbitjana  |  Awelye

Jap 013080  |  acrylic on linen  |  91 x 61 cm

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Sandhills and River Bed Country by Anna Petyarre

Anna Petyarre  |  Sandhills and River Bed Country

Jap 014941  |  acrylic on linen  |  90 x 60 cm

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

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 occupied for millennia.

One of the founding influences was the preparation done with the women artists at a time when the people 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 in force to support the batik initiative, and 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 was to occur 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 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.

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.

More about the 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