Kathleen Ngala (Ngale) is now in her early eighties and still lives not far from her birth place with her husband, Motorbike Paddy. Arlparra is her country from her father’s side and her mother came from Ngwelay, commonly known as Kurajong Bore. Her sisters, Poly Ngala, Maggie Ngala and Angelina
Apwerle, also paint.
Kathleen began painting in the early 1980’s in the medium of batik with over eighty other women from the Utopia Region in Central Australia. The women were encouraged to paint in this medium initially as a way of expressing and preserving the culture of people in the region. When the transition to acrylic on canvas became established in Papunya and the surrounding communities the women began to experiment in the medium and found the ease of painting with acrylics and the range of colours available attractive and many women disliked the smell associated with the Batik process. Kathleen like the other women swiftly changed mediums.
Her popularity as an artist has grown in recent times as her elegant and subtle representation of the “Bush Plum” is increasingly in demand. Her work has been exhibited in the UK, Ireland, France and the USA and is also featured frequently in Aboriginal Art Auctions.
Though she is not fluent in English, she likes to talk about her story, the Anwekety or ‘Bush Plum’ that features in her paintings. She is a senior custodian of this story.