Indigenous Australian art gallery est. 1989.

Lily Sandover Kngwarreye Biography and CV

Lily Sandover Kngwarreye at Utopia. Photo by Diane Bell.
Lily at a ceremony performed at the Utopia land claim c.1980 Photo by Diane Bell, Emily Kngwarreye Paintings (1998:18)

Lily Sandover Kngwarreye, her younger sister Joy Kngwarreye, and Emily Kame Kngwarreye were the first to ask the Holt family at Delmore Station for art materials in April 1989. Lily excited a lot of interest with her paintings in the first Delmore Gallery group exhibition 'Aboriginal Art from Utopia', which was held with Gallery Gabrielle Pizzi in Melbourne in October, 1989.

Lily became very good friends with Emily, despite the fact that they belonged to different tribes, because they were married to two brothers who saw a lot of each other. They became even closer friends when Lilly had a baby with Emily's husband, thereby giving him an heir, and Emily a son. It was Lily's father, Jacob, the senior lawman of the Alyawarre people, who adopted Emily into his family.

Born on Macdonald Downs Station in 1943, Lily Sandover began her artistic career in 1977 with the production of batiks when she was instructed by Suzie Bryce, a craft instructor, and Yipati, a Pitjantjatjara artist from Ernabella. Later, Jenny Green, a wonderfully enthusiastic facilitator, provided cotton material and paints for the women to use, she also taught many of the women to sign their names as well as other new skills that would make a difference to life at Utopia, such as how to drive a car. When Julia Murray arrived, she introduced silk to the artists and helped expand the market; though the new works would still prove hard to sell. Lily commenced painting on boards, during the CAAMA inspired project in 1988-89 and usually painted in the company of her adopted sister (and dearest friend), the renowned artist Emily Kame Kngwarreye. Lily's works were executed in fine details and her choice of colours was made with great care. She depicted various bush food stories, including the Honey Grevillea.

Lily and Emily were inseparable companions. Whilst painting very different styles they talked and laughed a lot, sharing food, friends, family and life. Lily's tribal country lies close to the Delmore Homestead, and it was here that they moved to stay permanently in 1996 when Emily had serious health issues.

Lily developed a wide range of styles over the years, from fine-dotted, meticulous works depicting the education of young teenagers, to naive landscapes and body painting lines, to arresting, complex depictions of her special ceremonial places. 

Lily was a wonderful friend to many who knew her, she passed away in 2003 due to a serious asthma attack.

View Lily Sandover Kngwarreye paintings     



National Gallery of Australia, Canberra
Artbank, Sydney
Holmes a Court Collection, Perth
AAMU Museum for Contemporary Aboriginal Art, Utrecht, The Netherlands
The Delmore Collection


2018  Delmore Gallery: Utopia Women, Merricks Art Gallery, Victoria, Australia
2017  Sacred Marks, JGM Gallery, London, U.K.
2001  Alcaston Gallery, Melbourne      
1991  Hogarth Galleries, Sydney
1990   Utopia: A Picture Story, an exhibition of 88 works on silk from the Holmes a Court Collection which toured Scotland and several venues in the USA including Harvard University, the University of Minnesota and Lake Oswego Centre for the Arts 
1989  Gallery Gabrielle Pizzi, Melbourne
1988-89  S.H.Ervin Gallery, Sydney


1988  Time Before Time, Austral Gallery, St Louis, USA
1988  Painting and Batik from the Desert, Utopia Art, Sydney, NSW
1988  Utopia Batik, Craft Council Gallery, Canberra, ACT
1988  Utopia Batik, Queensland Museum, Brisbane, QLD
1987  Fremantle Arts Centre, Fremantle, WA
1987  Darwin Museum Gallery, Darwin, NT
1987  Yirrkala Community Centre, Northern Territory
1987  Jogyakarta Fine Art Academy, Indonesia
1987  Sydney Expo, Craft Council Gallery, Sydney, NSW
1987  The Araluen Centre, Alice Springs, NT
1986  Craft Council Gallery, Canberra, ACT
1986  Bundaberg Art Gallery, Queensland
1986  The Araluen Centre, Springs Craft Festival, Alice Springs, NT
1985  Black Women in Focus, Adelaide Festival, Adelaide, SA
1985  Burnie Gallery, Tasmania
1985  Tasmanian Craft Gallery, Hobart, TAS
1984  Craft Council Gallery, Canberra, ACT
1984  Queensland University Gallery, Brisbane, QLD
1984  Fireworks Gallery, Adelaide, SA
1984  Sydney Craft Expo, Sydney, NSW
1984  Darwin Craft Council Gallery, Darwin, NT
1984  The Araluen Centre, Alice Springs, NT
1983  Adelaide Festival Centre, Adelaide, SA
1983  Alice Springs Craft Council, Alice Springs, NT
1982  Sydney Craft Expo, Sydney, NSW
1982  Brisbane Commonwealth Games Exhibition, Brisbane, QLD
1981  Floating Forests of Silks - Utopia Batik from the Desert, Adelaide Festival Centre, SA
1980  Artworks, Alice Springs, NT



  • Birnberg, M. & Kreczmanski, J.B. (2004) Aboriginal Artists Dictionary of Biographies: Central Desert, Western Desert & Kimberley Region. J.B. Publishing Australia, Marleston, South Australia.