Born in 1938 Gloria Petyarre started painting in 1991. She is fast becoming one of Utopia’s most popular artists. Although prolific, Gloria’s paintings never cease to inspire. The depiction of the mulga leaves found in the central desert region of Australia make a peaceful and serene painting. Gloria Petyarre’s use of overlapping colour gives added depth and movement to her paintings.
Gloria Petyarre has been a subject in the Archibald Prize in a work by Jenny Sages and a finalist in the Wynne Prize at the Art Gallery of NSW. Her work is also held in the permanent collection of the Art Gallery of NSW, the National Gallery in Canberra, the British Museum, the Prime Ministers Residence in Canberra, The Museum of Fine Arts in San Francisco and many other public and private collections worldwide.
Gloria is also known for her experimentation with the awelye (body paint designs) associated with the Arnkerrth (mountain devil lizard) and the representations of the lizards tracks in the sand.
Gloria Petyarre started painting on batik as a participant in the community project initiated by Rodney Gooch with the Central Australian Aboriginal Media Association (CAAMA). The project resulted in an exhibition of 88 batiks, up to three metres in length which was acquired by the Robert Holmes a Court Collection in 1988.
This collection of batiks entitled Utopia – A Picture Story received considerable international exposure and was effective in enriching our understanding of Aboriginal culture.
After seeing the success of the western desert artists and the ease of creating visual representations on canvas instead of the more labour intensive and often odorous process used in batik, a second project was initiated by CAAMA. In 1988-9 one hundred uniformly sized canvases were stretched, primed and distributed to the artists. Of the eighty artists who were involved in this project, the majority worked in the traditional colours of black, white, ochre and red. They produced an extraordinary body of work entitled – Utopia Women’s Paintings – the First Works on Canvas – A Summer Project 1988-9.