Delmore Gallery Blog
Gloria Petyarre creates vibrant, abstract images that are distinguished by their variety and complexity, while remaining firmly rooted in her country Arlperre and the powerful Dreamtime stories that she inherited from her father. For 38 years she has been renowned as an artist, initially for her work with batik on silk, and for the past 28 years to great acclaim, for her acrylic on linen creations. She is now considered to be the best-selling living female Aboriginal artist.
The leaf or "Bush Medicine" series, depicting the rushing movement of leaves with terse rhythmic brush strokes, has been heralded as one of her most successful stylistic developments to date. Here she utilises close tonal values of colour together with the rhythmic patterning of her brush strokes to capture the movement of a tree's leaves as seen blowing in the wind. The leaves of this tree are an important bush medicine, which are gathered by women in the Arlperre country and mixed with animal fat before being rubbed directly onto the skin.
Gloria’s work continues to be sought on the international market. Her beautiful 'Mountain Devil' painting, commissioned by Delmore Gallery, was bought into the permanent collection of Le Louvre, Paris, in 1994, and now resides in Musée du quai Branly. In 1999, Gloria won The Wynne prize for landscape (the first to be awarded to an Aboriginal artist).
Gloria paints her central Dreaming of Arnkerrthe - the Thorny or Mountain Devil Lizard, a small lizard with sharp spikes on its head and back that normally roams over a wide area. It moves in a quasi-circular fashion, leaving an exquisite pattern of tiny, not-quite-concentric tracks; with its travels through the Petyarre women’s Country depicted regularly in her artworks. The Mountain Devil Dreaming is connected to a large stretch of country called Atnangkere, it is country that is constantly changing, as does the chameleon-like lizard, from place to place and over time. Gloria has responsibility for this very individual species. In ceremony, she dramatically recalls through song and dance, those characteristics of the mythological mountain devil woman that made her an individual and tough survivor.
'Mountain Devil Awelye' was painted for Delmore Gallery at Uluru in October 2015, when Gloria, her sister Violet Petyarre and niece, Gracie Pwerle, visited Uluru for the first time. Gloria was invited by the manager of the Mulgara Gallery, at Sails in the Desert, Uluru, to paint on site at their current exhibition. Several hundred people were fascinated to be able to watch this renowned artist create this striking black and white piece (in a new style for Gloria). Don Holt recalls chatting with Gloria as she was painting this stunning work, in the shadow of Uluru. Gloria felt very much at home there and mused to Don, whilst singing, about the comparison between the changing colours of Uluru with the changing colours of her chameleon-like mountain devil. The lines on this canvas are derived from the body paint design applied as part of the “awelye” (ceremony).
Kngale is a senior Anmatyerre woman from the Utopia region in Arlperre Country. A remote, beautoful and uncompromising Central Desert region in the Northern Territory, and the homelands for the Anmatyerre and Alyawrre people.
When Kngale paints Arnwekety, she is vivifying the Bush Plum’s cycle of production, rest and regeneration. She is both recalling and calling-upon its seasonal cycle and all the relationships: human, animal, organic, elemental, and ancestral that enable and depend upon its regeneration.
This exhibition is a curatorial collaboration between Delmore Gallery and Pollon Art, New York. Drawn from the archives of Delmore Gallery's collection, is the first time that these important works by Kathleen Kngale have been offered for sale.
IN COLLABORATION WITH REDSEA GALLERY, Fortitude Valley, Brisbane, Australia
Thursday 7th April from 6:00pm – 8:00pm
RSVP to firstname.lastname@example.org
Exhibition runs from April 5th – May 1st
This exhibition of the Petyarre women can be seen as a spotlight shining on the virtual centre of Australia, in the middle of an old cattle station called Utopia, Northern Territory. At a place where two ancient tribal lands intersect: the Alyawarre and the Anmatyerre tribes share much more than divides them.
Two groups of artists, not related genetically, but who call each other skin group “sisters”, share in an intricate and harmonious tribal kinship system that connects them and their culture in a very special way.
The Anmatyerre sisters, Gloria, Kathleen and Violet Petyarre, are well established in the world art scene, having received many accolades, achieving awards and recognition both nationally and internationally. The Alyawarre sisters, Susie, Annie and Jessie Petyarre, also live on Utopia, and have mainly stayed out of the limelight – although they have been painting exquisite work for 27 years.
What is to be admired about these desert works is the combination of visual austerity and grandeur that they embody, evoking the sacred in ways rarely witnessed. The aesthetic of desert art is a sublime marriage of the quintessential and the iconic: we are seduced by the formal brilliance and spectacular colours of these desert acrylics. The subtleties and mysteries of contemporary Australian Aboriginal art speak powerfully of our country and the cultural history of many thousands of years of mythology.
The diversity on show in this exhibition brings many works, some never before seen in public, from little known, emerging artists like Susie, Jessie, Annie, Dorrie and Maisie, to be seen alongside the likes of Gloria Petyarre, who is the biggest selling living female Aboriginal artist. It is a wonderful representation of the variety of interpretive practices explored by these women of Utopia.
Delmore Gallery has been involved in supplying exquisite Aboriginal artworks and curating over fifty exhibitions worldwide and are pleased to be collaborating with REDSEA Gallery to bring this exhibition to reality.
“This exhibition is an exciting and important collaboration between galleries. We believe in empowering Aboriginal artists and maintaining the importance of Australia’s history. This stimulating collection have rarely been viewed in a single location and REDSEA Gallery is proud to bring attention to the diversity and strength of Australian Aboriginal Art”. – Lee Steer, Owner of REDSEA Gallery
Emily Kngwarreye painting "Yam Awelye" on the verandah at Delmore, August 1995.
1995 was a creative and exciting year for Emily Kame Kngwarreye at Delmore. In early April, searching for fresh inspiration, Emily asked Don Holt for the materials to create some works on paper in the same vein as the prints she had produced earlier with Studio 1 from Canberra and Theo Tremblay. Once she began, Emily quickly discarded the paper and proceeded to paint in the style of her early prints on primed linen. The result was the first of her 'Yam' paintings. Initially painting white lines on a black background for several weeks, then changing to black lines on a white canvas.
In June, Emily asked the Delmore team for 'more colour, whole lot' and began to create an exciting profusion of coloured yam paintings. From then on, she would rotate between white, black and coloured lines, usually painting with the same palette one day and changing the next, occasionally reverting to an earlier style for one painting, just for a change, then continuing on to 'take the line for a walk'.
The Yam and the Emu were Emily's primary Dreamings inherited from her grandfather; the yam was a vital food-source in drought, as well a part of the staple diet for the Anmatyerre and Alyawarre people. It was a food that they shared with Jessie Holt's family. In 1932, Jessie's brothers, Mac and Don, at the invitation of Jacob (who was the father of Lily Sandover, Joy and Freddy Kngwarreye and others), rode over 120 kilometres with packhorses to the Sandover River flood out to collect several hundred kilos of wild yams to share with everyone over the following month.
On the morning of August 23, 1995, Don Holt built a five metre wide frame from left over building materials and stretched it. Later that afternoon, Annabel Holt, who had just turned 9, primed the painting after school. On Sunday August 24, Emily and Lily arrived early in the morning after several days "holiday" collecting wild honey (sugar bag) and cooking a big lizard on a fire next to the "talking tree", near the Delmore homestead. Don talked with Emily about painting the big, five metre long canvas that he intended to give to the National Gallery in Canberra. Emily asked, 'Will the Prime Minister see it?' When given the affirmative answer, she set to her work with gusto, occasionally pausing to drink water or chat with Lily Sandover Kngwarreye who was painting 'Awelye' nearby, next to 'The Big Yam Dreaming' which was leaning up against the wall, soon to be gifted to The National Gallery of Victoria in Melbourne.
Don Holt with Kelvin Templeton in front of Emily Kame Kngwarreye's, 'Yam Awelye', donated to the National Gallery of Australia, Canberra, by the Holt Family.
The result was another masterpiece, part of Emily's wonderful legacy, that has travelled widely in retrospective exhibitions to Brisbane, Sydney, Melbourne, Canberra, Osaka and Tokyo.
Emily was unique, she broke new ground, in searching for her roots she led the way, creating an exciting new way of seeing her culture and a new perception by the rest of the art world of both Aboriginal people and Australian art.
"Emily Kngwarreye Paintings" , 1999 ed. New copies available now.