Kathleen Petyarre was born at Atnangkere, an important water soakage for Aboriginal people on the western boundary of Utopia Station, 150 miles north-east of Alice Springs in Australia’s Northern Territory. She has several sisters who are also well-known artists, among them Gloria Petyarre, Violet Petyarre, Myrtle Petyarre and Jeannie Petyarre.
Kathleen Petyarre is known for her paintings displaying an extremely refined layering technique with intricate dotting. Kathleen is custodian of several Dreamings, including her central Dreaming, Arnkerrthe, the Thorny or Mountain Devil Lizard. This small, spiky lizard roams over a wide area, with its travels through Petyarre’s country depicted regularly in her works. Petyarre’s painstaking and virtuosic method of applying countless dots with kebab sticks of various sizes means she typically spends many days, sometimes weeks, on one canvas.
Kathleen Petyarre is one of the most sought-after living Aboriginal artists. She has been repeatedly nominated by the influential journal Australian Art Collector as being among ‘the 50 most collectable artists in Australia’. Her work has been shown throughout Australia and overseas, including exhibitions in Germany, Indonesia, Ireland, the Netherlands and the United States.
She has won a number of awards, including the 1996 Telstra National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Art Award, the 1997 Visy Board Art Prize, and the People’s Choice at the 1998 Seppelt Contemporary Art Awards at the Museum of Contemporary Art. Her work is represented in most state collections, as well as numerous public, corporate, and private collections both in Australia and abroad.