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Date of Birth : c.1940
Country : Utopia, NT
Language : Anmatyerre / Alyawarreye

“Kathleen is one of the most important artist to emerge from Utopia. She is from a family of rich artistic talent which includes her sister Gloria Petyarre. Kathleen paints in a unique style that is instantly recognizable; layering intricate dots with rich colours to create powerful images.

She paints Emu and Dingo Dreamings as well as women hunting, but it is her Mountain Devil Lizard for which she is best known. This Dreaming tells of the need to heed the knowledge of elders and to exist as a group rather than individuals – a topic that was of the utmost importance to the nomadic desert people. Her work has been exhibited and collected by museums and collectors worldwide.

Kathleen Petyarre was born at the remote location of Atnangkere, an important water soakage for Aboriginal people on the western boundary of Utopia Station, 150 miles north-east of Alice Springs in the Northern Territory of Australia.

Kathleen, her daughter Margaret and her sisters settled at Mosquito Bore, on Utopia Station. She lives between Mosquito Bore, Utopia and at her home in Adelaide.

Kathleen was one of the key Anmatyerre women involved in the successful claim for the freehold title of land at Boundary Bore, which led to the 1979 formal hand-over of the Utopia pastoral lease back to its traditional owners.

Kathleen’s inherited her Dreamtime stories from her father and mother, they are Mountain Devil Lizard (Arnkerrthe), Women Hunting Emu, and Dingo Dreaming (Atnangkerre) these paintings are about her ancestral total and relate to the country around Utopia.

A common theme of Kathleen’s paintings refer to Arnkerrthe, Mountain or Thorny Devil Lizard, (Moloch horridus) a small lizard which has spikes on its back and lives in the desert, crossing vast terrain and changing colour according to its environment like a true chameleon. The enormity of his journeys can be felt in the landscape of Kathleen’s works.

In 1996 she was the winner of the 13th Telstra National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Art Award. Controversy arose in 1997 when Petyarre’s estranged partner of ten years, Ray Beamish, claimed that he had had a hand in the execution of the winning painting. This controversy, which shook the Aboriginal art market at the time, resulted in much stricter emphasis being put on the documentation of authorship in Aboriginal paintings. Her name was eventually cleared, and she retained her award.

A solo exhibition of her works in 2001 at the Museum of Contemporary Art in Sydney launched a book on her art “Genius of Place

Her work is in the permanent collection of the new Musée du Quai, Branly in Paris.

Kathleen Petyarre is one of the most sought-after living Aboriginal artists. She has been nominated many times by the Australian Art Collector as being among ‘the 50 most collectable artists in Australia’. Her sisters, Gloria, Violet, Myrtle and Jeannie Petyarre are also well-known Aboriginal women artists.



1991 Royal Hibernian Academy, Dublin, Ireland

1995 Ludwig Forum für Internationale Kunst, Aachen, Germany

1996 “Kathleen Petyarre – Storm in Aknangkerre Country”, Alcaston House Gallery, Melbourne

1998 Arnkerrthe – My Dreaming, Alcaston Gallery, Melbourne VIC, Australia,

1999 Recent Paintings by Kathleen Petyarre, Coo-ee Gallery, Mary Place, Sydney, NSW, Australia, 4–21 November

2000 Kathleen Petyarre, Retrospective Exhibition, Museum of Contemporary Art, Sydney, NSW, Australia

2000 Landscape: Truth and Beauty, Alcaston Gallery, Melbourne

2000 Kurrunpa Marrka “Strong Spirit” , Songlines Gallery, San Francisco, U.S.A.

2000 The Return of Beauty, Jam Factory, Adelaide, S.A.

2000 New Directions in Contemporary Aboriginal Painting, Songlines Gallery, San Francisco CA, USA

2001 Genius of Place. The work of Kathleen Petyarre. Museum of Contemporary Art, Sydney NSW, Australia

2001 New Paintings by Kathleen Petyarre, Gallerie Australis & Coo-ee Gallery, Paddington, N.S.W.

2002 Gallerie Commines, Paris, France

2003 Recent Paintings, Alcaston Gallery, Melbourne

2003 Ilyenty, Mosquito Bore, Alcaston Gallery, Melbourne

2003 Kathleen Petyarre & Abie Loy, Recent paintings, Fireworks Gallery, Brisbane

2003 Big Country: Masters Exhibition, Gallery Gondwana

2006 Galerie Clément, Vevey, Switzerland

2006 Hood Museum of Art, Dartmouth College, New Hampshire, USA

2006 Prism, Contemporary Australian Art, Bridgestone Museum of Art, Tokyo, Japan

2006 Dreaming Teir Way: Australian Aboriginal Women Painters, National Museum of Women in the Arts, Washington DC, U.S.A.

2006 Bush Leaf & Other Dreaming’s, Gadfly Gallery, Dalkeith, W.A.

2006 National Museum of Women in the Arts, Washington DC, USA

2006 Prism – Contemporary Australian Art at the Bridgestone Museum of Art, Tokyo, Japan

2007 Galerie Rigassi, Bern, Switzerland

2007 Gallery Anthony Curtis, Boston MA, USA



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 VintageFestival Art Show, Nurioopta SA, Australia.

1998 Finalist Seppelts Contemporary Art Award – Museum of Contemporary Art, Sydney,

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, S.A. (January)

1997 Museum Puri Lukisan, Ubud, Bli, Indonesia (June)



Collection of H. M. Queen Elizabeth II

National Gallery of Australia, Canberra, ACT

The Kerry Stokes Collection, Perth, WA

The Museum & Art Galleries of the Northern Territory, Darwin, NT

Art Gallery of South Australia, Adelaide, S.A

Flinders University Art Museum, Adelaide, S.A

The Kluge-Rhue Collection, University of West Virginia, VA, USA

The Kelton Foundation, Los Angeles, CA., USA

A.T.S.I.C. Collection, Adelaide, SA

National Gallery of Victoria, Melbourne, VIC

Museum Puri Lukisan, Ubud, Bali, Indonesia

University of South Australia Art Museum, Adelaide, SA

Riddoch Regional Art Gallery, Mount Gambier, SA

Edith Cowan University, Perth, WA

Collection de Musée des Arts d’Afrique et d’Oceanie, Paris, France

Peabody – Essex Anthropology and Ethnology Museum, Harvard University, Salem, Mass., USA

Adelaide Festival Centre Trust Collection, Adelaide, South Australia

Holmes a Court Collection

Musée des Confluences, Lyon, France

Kunsthaus – Sammlung Essl, Klosterneuburg, Austria

Aboriginal Art Museum, Utrecht, The Netherlands

The Vroom Collection, The Netherlands

Seattle Art Museum, Seattle, Washington, USA

Harvard University (Peabody-Essex Anthropology and Ethnology Museum), Salem, Massachusetts, USA

Levi-Kaplan Collection, Seattle, Washington, USA

Art Gallery of New South Wales, Sydney NSW, Australia

The Kerry Stokes Collection, Perth Western Australia


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