Artist Highlight - Nancy Kunoth Petyarre

Published on 26 Mar 2020 4:08:00 pm

Nancy Kunoth Petyarre Aboriginal paintingThis page contains images of deceased persons.

Nancy Kunoth Petyarre was born at Soakage Bore near Utopia in Central Australia, circa 1938. She comes from a large family of artists and is the sister of the well-known Indigenous artists Gloria Petyarre, Kathleen Petyarre (dec), Ada Bird (dec), Violet Petyarre and Myrtle Petyarre (dec).

Petyarre sisters

Like many of the female artists from the Utopia area, Nancy worked in batik and gradually evolved her art to canvas in the late 1980’s.

Her Dreamings include Mountain Devil Lizard Dreaming, Body Painting and Grass Seed; these are stories that come from her family and her country.

Nancy is noted for her linear style of painting depicting Mountain Devil Lizard (Arnkerrthe) Dreaming with flowing strokes and bright colours. This is an important Dreaming story for Nancy and portrays the Thorny Devil Lizard of Central Australia.

Nancy Kunoth Petyarre Aboriginal painting

The lizard is a slow moving reptile that reaches 20cm in length and can change colour to blend in with its surroundings. Nancy’s paintings reflect the markings of the lizard and the colour changes that also occur as the reptile warms in the desert sun. 

The line in the centre of the painting shows the ancestral trail of the lizard as it walked the lands. 

The dots form an intricate display of patterns that display Nancy's love of her country.

Nancy Kunoth Petyarre Mountain Devil Dreaming

Nancy Kunoth Petyarre was also well known for her carvings that have featured in numerous exhibitions, and for wood block prints which are in the collections of the National Gallery of Australia and the Art Gallery of New South Wales.

Collections
Holmes a’ Court, Perth.
Art Gallery of New South Wales, Sydney.
National Gallery of Australia, Canberra.
Museum & Art Galleries of the Northern Territory, Darwin.
National Gallery of Victoria, Melbourne.

Sadly, Nancy passed away at Utopia in 2009. 

To view more of Nancy Kunoth Petyarre paintings click here.

Kudditji Kame Kngwarreye & Idris Murphy exhibition, showing from June 10th.

A selection of Aboriginal and Contemporary artworks available in the gallery stockroom.

Congratulations to 2020 John Leslie Art Prize Finalist Min-Woo Bang.