Nancy Kunoth Petyarre
c.1938 - 2009
Born: Soakage Bore, Utopia, NT
LANGUAGE GROUP: Anmatyerre
COMMUNITY: Utopia, NT
Nancy Petyarre was born at Soakage Boar in Utopia in approximately 1938. She was one of the well known Petyarre sisters - Gloria, Kathleen, Ada Bird, Violet, Myrtle, and Nancy.
Utopia is situated 240 km northeast of Alice Springs and was part of the Anmatyerre and Alyawarre-speaking people. Nancy was married with six children, who are also artists. Nancy's sister, Kathleen was one of the key Anmatyerre women involved in the successful claim for the freehold title, which led to the 1979 formal hand-over of the Utopia pastoral lease back to its traditional owners. The artists of Utopia have been making important visual images for most of their lives, on their bodies and ceremonial objects. These images relate to their Awelye (dreaming) and are significant to the ceremonies and rituals, which are the basis of their cultures.
Like the other women artists from the region, Nancy worked in batik and gradually evolved her art using canvas following its introduction to the communities in the late eighties. Her main Dreamings are 'Mountain Devil Dreaming', "Body Paint' and 'Grass Seed'. Nancy was noted for her linear style which is particularly evident in "Mountain Devil Dreaming" where she used bold flowing strokes and bright colours. Surrounding these broad areas of colour, there were often small dots creating the effect of the lizards' skin that is the basis of this Dreaming.
Nancy was also well-known for her carvings which have featured in numerous exhibitions. Nancy had done wood block prints that are exhibited in the National Gallery of Australia and the Art Gallery of New South Wales.
Sadly, Nancy passed away in August 2009.