Lily Sandover Kngwarreye Biography
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 1947, 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.
National Gallery of Australia, Canberra
Holmes a Court Collection, Perth
AAMU Museum for Contemporary Aboriginal Art, Utrecht, The Netherlands
The Delmore Collection
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
EXHIBITION OF BATIK SILKS
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.