Indigenous Australian art gallery est. 1989.

Lily Sandover Kngwarreye

View Lily Sandover Kngwarreye's Biography and CV

Lily Sandover Kngwarreye was a very special person, warm and generous, with a great sense of humour, loyal to her friends and was a very talented artist. Lily was the closest friend and constant companion of Emily Kngwarreye. Having been married to two brothers, they saw a lot of each other, and even though Lily was an Alyawarre woman and Emily, an Eastern Anmatyarre woman, they grew up speaking each other's language and their Country was close by on the Sandover River on Utopia.

Lilly was an energetic and successful participant in the batik movement which was started by Yipati, (an aboriginal artist from Ernabella) and Suzie Bryce (a craft instructor) in 1977, then continued and encouraged by Jenny Green in 1978, and later, Julia Murray. Producing batik was hard work and sales were slow, but Lily had a lot of fun creating the beautiful flowing silk scarves and wall hangings. She would often travel to nearby Delmore, with Emily or sometimes with Jenny Green or Julia Murray, to show the Holts the pieces that she had made.

Before the batik, Lily produced exquisitely designed bean seed necklaces and mats, often linking many coloured seeds from different trees by drilling holes through them with a red-hot wire, then threading them with human hairs. These were well regarded and achieved quite a reputation – some of these were purchased at the time, by the Federal Department of Aboriginal Affairs, in Canberra. This particular type of production was very hard work, so when CAAMA gave out boards and paint in 88/89, Lilly and her friends found it easy and even more fun to paint.

Lily always painted nearby Emily, and they chatted, laughed, told stories and greeted other visiting artists while painting, each doing their own particular style. They shared time, life, their children and several languages, but each had their own tribe, their own Dreamtime history, their own special Country and they painted very different styles of artworks.

Initially, in 1989 and the early 1990s, Lily’s paintings depicted her fundamental role as a teacher of the younger girls. They are an aerial view of a large group of girls sitting in circles listing to Lily teach them about women's ceremonies, including the body painting (awelye), and increase ceremonies for various plants such as the Honey Grevillea.

As the eldest daughter of Jacob, a very senior Alyawarre lawman, Lily had an important and growing role to play in women's ceremonial life. These early paintings took many days to produce, she often only produced one meticulous work of art in the time that Emily created seven or eight. Her paintings were often about ceremonies held at her special place, Enteebra, on Utopia.

Lily changed styles in the mid 1990s to explore many variations of awelye, body painting, using a series of half circles and circles in various colours.

After Emily passed away, Lily explored an whole new style of complex fine paintings based on the Ayippa grass at Enteebra and her Sugarbag (Wild Honey) Dreaming. These were complex, fine works of art and led to Lily Sandover Kngwarreye  paintings being highly sort after by collectors.


Browse Lily Sandover Kngwarreye artworks for sale in Delmore Gallery’s online store or contact us for further details.

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