Abie Loy Kemarre
Abie Loy Kemarre took Paris by storm at a very young age, becoming an almost instant celebrity when her artworks were exhibited by Stephane Jacob of Arts d’Australie.
Abie was only five years old when the batik movement started at Utopia, and she learned a lot about artistic creation and the use of colour over the next ten years.
As a budding artist, Abie had many advantages. Her mother, Margaret Loy, painted, and her grandmother, the eminent Kathleen Petyarre, was her mentor and teacher, providing Abie with a great role model to follow. Her grandmother’s sisters, Gloria, Violet and Ada Bird Petyarre are all also very successful artists, as are her uncles, Cowboy and Louie Pwerle. This lineage of artistic talent set Abie on her path.
When she was 17, Abie watched her grandmother, Kathleen Petyarre, begin painting on linen at Delmore Gallery, which was close to Utopia; she was always fascinated and vitally interested in watching her extended family paint. Kathleen was a teacher’s aide at the Utopia School while Abie was a young student there, and also encouraged Abie's talents.
In January 1994 Abie began painting at Delmore. Very quickly it was realised that she was a talented artist with a great future.
Abie’s paintings depict her Dreaming ancestor, the female Bush Bustard (or bush turkey) as it walks about, eating and sometimes flying through her ancestral Country.
Her other Dreaming represented in her paintings is the special leaf (or leaves). This is an inheritance from her paternal grandfather's father, as her father is Ray Loy Pwerle, who is the brother of well known artists Cowboy Louie Pwerle and Louie Pwerle (dec). The special leaf grows in a swamp near some sandhills close to the Utopia region in Abie's grandfather's country and it is known for its wonderful curative properties. These bush leaves can be used to cure a raft of illnesses including colds, headaches, and wounds. A paste is made from the leaves, which is then rubbed into the affected part of the body. The leaves can also be mixed with water and drunk as a cure for a range of ailments (Nicholls 2010: 52).
As a Dreaming, this special leaf is closely associated with women, and is as Christine Nicholls describes, "...a shape-shifter, a state-changer, possessing the ability to transform herself from her bush leaf-form into a woman and back into a leaf again. The aspect of the Bush Leaf Dreaming that Abie paints belongs to women only. The accompanying Dreaming narrative contains a good deal of information about the precise locations of this leaf, in arid parts of the country. The bush leaf is painfully shy. When people touch the leaves or pick this leaf she dies of embarrassment, because of the shame of being touched. Yet magically, although the leaf withers under the gaze and touch of people who covet the leaves of this plant, she has the capacity to regenerate herself and brings herself back to life after" (Nicholls 2010: 53).
Abie Loy Kemarre is a meticulous, creative colourist who loves the practice of painting. She has extended and expanded her repertoire and developed her own distinctive style with her astounding attention to detail and intricate dot work. She is a highly disciplined artist, often working and reworking ideas many times until she is satisfied with the final outcome.
Abie’s paintings continue to excite interest all over the art world.
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