Gloria Petyarre

Gloria Petyarre

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DOB: c.1942
Born: Mosquito Bore, Utopia, Northern Territory

Gloria Petyarre, sometimes referred to as Gloria Pitjara, is arguably the most famous and significant of all female Australian Aboriginal Artists living and working today. She is internationally acclaimed for her 'Bush Medicine Leaf' paintings.

Her career took off with gusto when she won the most coveted Australian annual 'Wynne Prize for Landscape' at the New South Wales Gallery in 1999, for what was a most extraordinary painting for its time: A huge, gold and green abstract work, made up of swirling leaf shaped brush strokes, close together on a black background and yet imparting to the canvas the energy and flow of leaves being scattered by a fitful wind, seaweed swirling in a change of tide, or grass billowing in the wind.

The leaves in the winning painting, based on those of the Kurrajong tree which is used for bush medicine, were meticulously painted and yet their apparent freedom of movement gave a lightness and looseness to the creation. So much did this artwork fascinate the essentially nature-loving people of this country, that it was to become one of the most popular styles in Aboriginal art, and in fact became a style that brought many a devotee to the genre because of its resonance with the viewer.

And with her win came a triumph for Aboriginal art: Gloria Petyarre became the first Indigenous Australian artist ever to win a major art prize at the Gallery of New South Wales.

Years later, Gloria still paints her medicine leaf paintings, and is now followed in doing so by several generations of her family members. However, Gloria was and is credited with being the creator of this popular style, is regarded as the most collectible of its proponents, and has had a strong foundation on which to build her career.

Gloria's origins are in a region called Utopia, covering an area approximately 230 - 300km from Alice Springs, itself a remote town to many people. Utopia takes 'remote' to an entirely new level, being still without a township in 2012, without the usual resources and reachable only by a dirt road (as long as rains do not block it entirely).

Many of Australia's foremost Indigenous artists spring from this area, including Gloria's renowned aunt, Emily Kame Kngwarreye (deceased since 2006, and the most famous and accomplished female Indigenous Artist Australia has produced.

Gloria, her family members and her skin family, first became interested in art making by participating in the Utopia Women's Silk Batik Group introduced in 1977 and initiated by CAAMA (the Central Australian Aboriginal Media Association). Both Gloria and Emily Kngwarreye were founding members of the group.

With up to 80 members at a time, the Batik and Tie-die project became the seeding inspiration for the artists, and its tremendous success both in Australia and overseas led to another successful project introduced in 1988, again by CAAMA.

This time, the artists were to paint on primed, stretched canvas, and many of the women took to the new medium with ease and enthusiasm, finding it more exciting to work with than the silk and batik techniques they had hitherto used.

The resulting works were exhibited at the S.H.Erwin Gallery in Sydney and several other notable galleries across Australia. It was the beginning of the Utopian Art Movement, and it was impressive enough to gain international attention. Gloria Petyarre was one of the artists at the very centre of it.

As demand for Utopian art grew, so did Gloria's career. She travelled with her art to many countries and exhibited in France, Germany, the United Kingdom, Belgium, the Netherlands, Italy, the USA and Japan, and of course in regional and commercial galleries throughout Australia.

It would be easy to think that Gloria Petyarre's works are limited to bush medicine leaf works, but in fact she has quite a number of dreamings in her portfolio: She paints the 'Thorny Mountain Devil Lizard Dreaming', a pattern of swirling coloured lines which imitate the tracks made in the sand by the lizard's tail; the Yam Dreaming, popularly executed by her aunt Emily Kngwarreye, is also one of Gloria's commonly painted stories. She also paints Grass Seed,

Pencil Yam, Emu, Bean, Small Brown Grass and Body Paint dreamings, and this breadth of subject matter and style has made her an extremely versatile artist.

Now in her late 60s, Gloria continues to paint. In recent years, she has departed at times from her finer medicine leaf works, to paint her massive 'Big Leaf' paintings, expressionistically rendered with giant brush strokes that mix colour on the canvas to gain a variety of fascinating paint effects. The smile on her face while she paints these works reveals her delight in having a break from the finer styles that had occupied her previously.

Gloria Petyarre is a multi-award winning artist and a highly collectible one. Her involvement in the founding projects of the Utopian Art Movement, and her status in the group have given her a place in Australian Art History - as well as a significant body of work. Apart from winning the AGNSW Wynne Prize in 1999, Gloria went on to be a finalist another four times. The most prestigious Indigenous art competition in this country, the 'Telstra National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Art Award' has featured her artworks on many occasions, and her works are widely collected and commonly held in the finest Aboriginal Art Collections and Museums worldwide.

At Auction, Gloria's record to date is $78,000 ( + buyers premium) for 'Bush Medicine', painted in 2004, the sale being well in excess of the Auction House estimate of $40,000 to $60,000.

1999 - Wynne Prize, Art Gallery of New South Wales.
1994 - Tapestry Commission for the Law Courts, Brisbane, Queensland
1993 - Design for tapestry for Victorian Tapestry Workshop.;
1993 - Mural for Kansas City Zoo;


Allen, Allen & Hemsley
Art Gallery of New South Wales, Sydney, NSW
Art Gallery of Queensland, Brisbane, QLD
Art Gallery of South Australia, Adelaide, South Australia
Artbank, Sydney, NSW
Australian National Gallery, Canberra, ACT
Baker-McKenzie Collection
British Museum, London, U.K
Campbelltown City Art Gallery, Campbelltown, NSW
Flinders University, Adelaide, South Australia
Gold Coast City Art Gallery
Gold Coast City Art Gallery, Gold Coast, Queensland
Griffith University Collection, Queensland
James D. Wolfensohn Collection
Levi Collection, Seattle, Canada
Macquarie Group Collection
Mornington Peninsula Regional Gallery, Victoria
Museum of Victoria, Melbourne, Victoria
Museums and Art Galleries of the Northern Territory, Darwin
National Gallery of Victoria, Melbourne, Victoria
Powerhouse Museum, Sydney, NSW
Queensland University of Technology, Brisbane, Queensland
Singapore Art Museum, Singapore
Supreme Court Collection, Brisbane, Queensland
The Robert Holmes a'Court Collection
University of New South Wales Collection, Sydney, NSW
University of the Sunshine Coast Collection, Queensland
University of Woollongong, Woollongong, NSW
Wadsworth Athenaeum, Hartford, U.S.A
Westpac Gallery, New York, USA
Woollongong City Art Gallery, Woollongong, NSW


2010 - Dacou Gallery, Melbourne, Vic
2009 - New Works, Big Leaves, Kate Owen Gallery, Sydney, NSW
1999 - ?Wildflowers?, Mbantua Gallery, Alice Springs, NT.
1999 - New England Regional Art Museum, Armidale, NSW.
1999 - Red Desert Gallery, Eumundi, Queensland.
1999 - Flinders Lane Gallery- Melbourne, VIC.
1998 - Campbelltown Bicentennial Art Gallery, Campbelltown, NSW.
1998 - Chapman Gallery, Canberra, ACT
1998 - Utopia Art, Sydney, NSW.
1998 - Robert Steele Gallery, Adelaide, SA.
1997 - Instant Pictures, Utopia Art Sydney, NSW.
1996 - Fireworks Gallery, Brisbane, QLD.
1995 - Gloria Petyarre: On the Line, Utopia Art Sydney, NSW.
1994 - Utopia Art Sydney, NSW.


2018 - Earth's Creation 2: Emily Kame Kngwarreye & Family - Kate Owen Gallery, Sydney
2017 - Gems from the Stockroom, Kate Owen Gallery, Sydney
2011 - Aboriginal Art Collectors' Gallery, Kate Owen Gallery, Sydney
2009 - 'Size Matters', Kate Owen Gallery, Sydney, NSW
2009 - 5th Shalom Gamarada Aboriginal Art Exhibition, University of NSW
2009 - Abstraction, Utopia Art, Sydney, NSW
2008 - Three Petyarres, Kate Owen Gallery, Sydney, NSW
2008 - Gooch's Utopia, Flinders University, Adelaide, SA
2006 - 'A Survey', Utopia Art Sydney, NSW
2006 - National Museum of Women in the Arts, Washington DC, USA
2006 - Utopia, Flinders Lane Gallery, Melbourne, VIC
2004 - 'Power of The Land', Utopia Art Sydney, NSW
2004 - Fremantle Arts Centre, WA
2004 - Curtin University of Technology, WA
2004 - Ivan Dougherty Gallery, COFA, NSW
2004 - 'The Women's Show', Vivienne Anderson Gallery, Victoria
2004 - Utopia, Gloria, Barbara, Minnie, Flinders Lane Gallery, Melbourne, VIC
2003 - Glen Eira City Gallery, Melbourne
2002, 2003 Chapel off Chapel, Melbourne
2002 - 2003 National Gallery of Victoria at Federation Square, Melbourne
2002 - Light Square Gallery, Adelaide
2002 - Singapore Art Museum
2002 - Knut Grothe Galeri, Denmark
2002 - 'Two thirds sky', Hazelhurst Regional Gallery & Arts Centre, NSW
2002 - The Utopia Six, Flinders Lane Gallery
2001 - "Icons of Australian Aboriginal Art", Singapore
2001 - Brisbane City Gallery
2001 - Kunst der Gegenwart, Vienna, Austria
2001 - Manawatu Gallery, New Zealand
2000 - Australian National University, Canberra
2000 - Fireworks Gallery, Brisbane
2000 - Australian National University, ACT
2000 - Old Parliament House, Canberra, ACT
1999 - "Bush Garden", Japingka Gallery, Fremantle
1999 - Art Gallery of Western Australia
1999 - Embassy of Australia, Washington, U.S.A.
1999 - Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco, U.S.A.
1999 - New England Regional Art Museum;
1999 - Art Gallery of Western Australia
1999 - New Leaves, Utopia Art Sydney;
1999 - Quadrivium Gallery, Sydney
1999 - Utopia, BMG Art, Adelaide
1999 - Arts d'Australie, Bastille, Paris
1999 - Wynne Prize exhibition Winning entry
1998 - The Anangkere Growth Paintings,Chapman Gallery, Canberra;
1998 - Annandale Galleries, Sydney
1998 - Exhibitions in Europe ? inc. Belgium, Germany, Netherlands, Switzerland
1998 - Araluen Arts Centre, Alice Springs
1998 - Chapman Gallery, Canberra
1998 - The Adelaide Festival Theatre
1998 - Propositions Australiennes, Galerie Luc Queyrel, Paris
1997 - Australian Galleries, Sydney
1997 - 'Instant Pictures', Utopia Art Sydney, NSW
1997 - Galerie de Stassart, Bruxelles
1997 - Sutton Gallery, Melbourne
1996, 1999 Sherman Galleries, Sydney
1996 - Seoul Arts Centre, Korea
1996, 2000 Old Parliament House, Canberra
1996 - Niagara Galleries, Melbourne
1996 - William Mora Galleries, Melbourne
1995 - Mitchell Galleries, State Library of N.S.W.
1995 - National Gallery of Australia
1995 - Aboriginal and Tribal Art Centre, Sydney
1995 - Canberra Museum of Art, Gifu, Japan
1995 - National Gallery of Victoria, Melbourne
1995 - Powerhouse Museum, Sydney
1994 - Utopia Art Sydney, NSW
1994 - Masterpieces of Aboriginal Art, National Gallery of Victoria
1993 - Art Gallery of Queensland, Brisbane
1993 - Austral Gallery, St Louis, U.S.A.
1993 - Australian Embassy, Paris, France
1993 - Myra Morgan Gallery, Kansas, U.S.A.
1992 , 1994, 1995, 1999 Gallery Gabrielle Pizzi, Melbourne
1992, 1994, 1996, 2000, 2002 Royal Exhibition Hall, Melbourne
1992, 2002 Gallery Rai, Tokyo, Japan
1992 - National Gallery of Australia, Canberra
1992 - 'The Body Paint Collection', Bishop Museum, Hawaii
1992 - 'The Body Paint Collection', toured USA
1992 - Robert Homes a'Court Collection, Bangkok, Thailand
1991, 1996 - S.H. Ervin Gallery, Sydney
1991, 1994, 1995, Art Gallery of N.S.W.
1991 - Australia Galleries, New York, U.S.A.
1991 - Meat Market Gallery, Melbourne
1990 - "Utopia", exhibited in Ireland, U.K., India
1990 - Orange Regional Gallery
1990 - Tandanya, Adelaide
1990 - Third Eye Centre, Glasgow
1989 - 'A Summer Project', S.H.Ervin Gallery, Sydney, NSW
1989 - Utopia Batik, Arulen Centre, Alice Springs
1989 - National Gallery of Australia, Canberra
1989 - Coventry Gallery, Sydney
1989 - Austral Gallery, St Louis, U.S.A.
1988 - Bloomfield Gallery, Sydney
1984 - First National Aboriginal Art Award Exhibition, AGNT, Darwin