Vale Ms Petyarre

Ms Petyarre passed away after a long illness in June 2021. She worked with Gannon House Gallery for nearly 20 years and from her earliest paintings become one of our most popular artists.

Petyarre began her art making in batik in 1977 with a group that included Emily Kame Kngwarreye and other senior women from Utopia. It was about 12 years later they transitioned to acrylics on canvas.

From 1977 to 1987 she participated in many group exhibitions with other women from Utopia and had the opportunity to travel to the US, Europe and Indonesia. During this time she and her husband, Ronnie Price, were commissioned to design a mural for the Kansas City Zoo. In 1999 she was included in a major exhibition, Spirit Country”, at the Museum of Fine Art in San Francisco. Reflecting the growing international fascination with Australian Aboriginal Art the work was selected from the extensive Gantner and Myer family collections.

Petyarre’s work reflected her relationship with the flora and fauna of her Tjukurrpa and the associated traditional body paint designs. These included the wind blowing through the bush medicine (mulga) leaves, grass and yam seed and the mountain devil lizard dreaming. She brought her own stylistic innovation to these stories and was always happy to explain the subjects, as far as was appropriate, to her audience.

From the 1999 onward she gained a following of devoted collectors in Australia. She was selected as a finalist in the Wynne Prize multiple times and as the winner in 1999 with 12 panels of autumnal coloured bush medicine leaves. Petyarre was also a finalist in the prestigious Telstra  Aboriginal and Torres Straight Islander Art Award and was a subject of a portrait for the Archibald Portrait prize at the Art Gallery of NSW.

As a demonstration of her popularity and standing as an important Australian artist, her work can be found in all the major public art collections in Australia, the prime ministers residence in Canberra and the British Museum collection in London as well as a number of large private collections world wide.

Her vibrancy and personality will be missed but she leaves an extensive collection of stunning paintings as a permanent visual reminder of this talented Australian artist.