Indigenous Australian art gallery est. 1989.

Ollie Kemarre Biography and CV

View Ollie Kemarre's paintings

Ollie Kemarre (1939-2007) (sometimes referred to as Allie), an Anmatyerre woman, was born at Mount Swan and brought up in the Haarts Range region with her sister, Gladys Kemarre and brother Billy Benn Pwerle.

Ollie and her sister Gladys were inseparable, and often sat together painting the Anwekety or Bush Plum Dreaming with Angeline Ngale (Kngale), which had been passed down to her by her grandmother. Her fine dot work represents the sweet black fruit, sometimes referred to as Conkerberry. Her paintings primarily depict the ripening stage of bush plum. The plant produces white flowers and berries, which when ripe, are edible and sweet to taste. The berries also feed a variety of wildlife including emus, bush turkeys and other native bird species. Ollie's artworks provide a topographical view of the landscape around Ahalpere, her country, in the Utopia region in Central Australia. As part of Ollie's Dreaming the women perform Awelye ceremonies (women's ceremonies) to pay homage to the Bush Plum to ensure further germinations in years to come.

Like many artists from the eastern desert community, Ollie started painting on fabric using the batik technique in 1977 under the initial guidance of Yipati, a Pitjantjatjara artist from Ernabella and Suzie Bryce, a craft instructor. Later, Jenny Green, a wonderfully enthusiastic arts facilitator, provided cotton material and paints for the women to use and 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.

After ten years of producing beautiful batik on silk and cotton in glorious colours, Ollie, along with 88 other Alyawarre and Anmatyerre artists participated in an exhibition at the S. H. Ervin Gallery in April 1989 on small painting boards. This was organised by Rodney Gooch of the Central Australian Aboriginal Media Association (CAAMA). She took part in A Summer Project: Utopia Women's Painting (first works on canvas) 1988-89, exhibited in 1989, then participated in a watercolour survey in early 1989 which was acquired in its entirety by the Holmes a Court Collection.

Ollie lived her life tied to the traditions of the bush and her family, was a talented artist and a generous, beautiful soul. Although Ollie never rose to the fame of contemporaries such as Emily Kngwarreye, Kathleen Petyarre and Gloria Petyarre, and at times was in the shadow of her sister Gladys and the three Kngale sisters, her legacy will not be forgotten. In recent times, Ollie's work has been bought by major public collections. 

Ollie passed away in March 2007.


National Gallery of Australia, Canberra
The Holmes a Court Collection, Perth
Aboriginal Art Museum, Utrecht, The Netherlands


2017  The Golden Age of Utopia, Aboriginal Signature Estrangin gallery, Brussels, Belgium
2007  Eastern Desert Dreaming, Artists from Utopia, GalleryG, Brisbane
2006  Senior Women of Utopia, GalleryG, Brisbane
2002  Salon ART PARIS, Carrousel du Louvre, Galerie Arts d'Australie, Stéphane Jacob
2001  Australie, Visages d’un continent, Arts d'Australie, Stéphane Jacob, Galerie Visages de l'Art, Marly-le-Roi
1998  Malerei aus Utopia und Balgo Hills, Galerie Bähr, Allemagne
1997  Dessine moi un rêve, L'Art des aborigènes d'Australie, Arts d'Australie,
Stéphane Jacob / Musée des Beaux-Arts, Clermont Ferrand
1997  L’Art des Aborigènes d’Australie, Arts d'Australie Stéphane Jacob, 
Galerie de Stassart, Bruxelles
1997  L’Art des Aborigènes d’Australie, Arts d'Australie, Stéphane Jacob, 
Espace Paul Riquet, Béziers
1990  Utopia - A Picture Story - an exhibition of 88 works on silk from the Holmes a Court Collection by Utopia artists which toured Eire & Scotland
1989  Utopia Women's Paintings, the First Works on Canvas, A Summer Project
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