c. 1940 - 24 Nov 2018
Born: Atnangkere, Utopia, NT
LANGUAGE GROUP: Anmatyerre
COMMUNITY: Utopia, NT
Kathleen (or Kweyetwemp in her Eastern Anmatyerre tongue) Petyarre was born c. 1940 at Atnangkere on Utopia Station, 270km north east of Alice Springs. She first encountered white man in the late 1940s and starting her integration into western society when working on various pastoral leases as she grew up.
In 1969 she was successful in applying for a job at Utopia school where she stayed for 20 years. During that time she worked on batik, and then started painting as part of CAAMA's Summer Project in 1988-89.
In 1996 Kathleen won the National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Art Award (NATSIAA) and her painting career blossomed from there. She has been exhibited overseas numerous times and in 2001 had a solo exhibition at the Museum of Contemporary Art, Sydney.
In general, her work is minimalistic and characterised by the fine dotting technique she uses to represent mental maps of her country. Her signature work is the Mountain or Thorny Devil Lizard Dreaming, which gives a unique representation of this small creature's travels across Kathleen's country during the Creation era. Another signature genre is Bush Seeds.
Kathleen Petyarre is a blood sister of the respected artists Gloria, Violet and Ada Bird Petyarre, a great niece of the feted Emily Kame Kngwarreye and skin sister to Jeannie and Rosemary Petyarre. She is extensively exhibited in public and private galleries. Kathleen spent her time between Alice Springs and her home country, Utopia.
Dr Christine Nicholls reported that Kathleen passed away on 24 November 2018 in Alice Springs, surrounded by family and loved ones, at about the age of 80.