Kathleen Petyarre was born at Atnagker in 1940, on the western boundary of Utopia Station, 240 kilometres north-east of Alice Springs in the Northern Territory. Kathleen, her daughter Margaret and her sisters live at Iylenty (Mosquito Bore) at Utopia Station, near her birthplace. She belongs to the Alyawarre/Eastern Anmatyerre clan and speaks Eastern Anmatyerre, with English as her second language.
Kathleen first started working in batik in 1977 when an adult education instructor, Jenny Green, arrived in Utopia and organised batik workshops. Later in 1988-89, she took up painting on canvas. Her art directly refers to her country and her dreamings, including Emu and Dingo Dreaming, bush seeds and her signature painting of the Mountain Devil Lizard Dreaming. Her art is minimalist, done in a layering technique with very intricate dotting.
Kathleen Petyarre is one of the most sought-after living Aboriginal artists. She has six sisters who are also well-known artists, among them Ada Bird Petyarre (deceased), Gloria Petyarre, Violet Petyarre and Myrtle Petyarre. Kathleen's works consistently show the highest degree of innovation, and are in great demand and likely to fetch the highest prices at auctions.
Her considerable reputation as one of the most original indigenous artists has since been confirmed nationally and internationally by her regular inclusion in exhibitions at the most reputed museums and galleries. A book about her art, “Genius of Place”, was published in 2001 in conjunction with a solo exhibition of her works at the Museum of Contemporary Art in Sydney. Her work has been selected, along with just a handful of Aboriginal artists, for inclusion in the permanent collection of Musée du quai Branly in Paris. Awards:
·1996, winner of the 13th Telstra National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Art
·1996, 3rd National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Heritage Commission Art
·1997, Overall winner of the Visy Board Art Prize
-1998, Seppelt Contemporary Art Award, Museum of Contemporary Art, Sydney