On the 24th of November 2018, artist Kathleen Petyarre passed away at the age of eighty.
Born in 1938, Kathleen Petyarre (Kweyetemp) Kathleen Petyarre has contributed much to our understanding of desert communities and Anmatyerr culture. She will be missed as a leader in art making in Utopia and as a staunch supporter of land access and rights for her community.
Kathleen Petyarre traveled as a child with her extended family around her father’s and grandfather’s country Amangkere, about 275 kilometers north-east of Alice Springs (NT), developing an encyclopedic knowledge of its flora, fauna, rock holes, soaks, and other significant sites. Petyarre estimates that she would have been about seven or eight when the family first came across a white person. In the late 1970s, with other Anmatyerre and some Alyawerre women from the Utopia region, she began learning batik techniques at an adult education course. About the same time she became a key claimant in a claim for Anmatyerre freehold title over the Utopia pastoral lease.
Kathleen’s paintings feature Arnkerrthe, the Mountain or Thorny Devil and her country which is shown in the fine veils of dots that she uses on her canvas. Her paintings are maps and representations of her ancestors dreamings and aspects of her life that sustained her.
Her work was featured in a solo exhibition at the MCA in Sydney in 2001 and she recieved the 1996 ‘Big Telstra’ award for her work, ‘Storm in Atnangker Country’ (1996).