Working in a remote, north-west corner of the Simpson Desert, on land annexed by pastoral leases during the 1920s, Emily Kam Ngwarray became, in the final decade of her life, perhaps the most celebrated and sought after Australian artist of her time.
A leading figure in eastern Anmatyerr ceremony, Ngwarray was also the artist in whose work many white Australians first felt the force of an Indigenous art that could be seen to negotiate a space both within the aesthetics of Western abstraction and the timeless precepts of Aboriginal cultural traditions.
Ngwarray attained artistic maturity as a woman in her seventies, not long converted to the techniques of painting on canvas, but with decades of painting in a ceremonial context and activity with the Utopia Women's Batik Group behind her - as well as life as a camel handler and stockhand. In an extraordinarily prolific eight years of professional painting, she produced magnificent canvases in which she appears to have aimed for essentialist visions of the multiplicities and connectedness of her country, as imaged in terms of its organic energies. Ngwarray's vital traceries both conform to, and seem to expand beyond, her clan codes, in abstractions of ceremonial markings and imagery of her country's flora and fauna.
synthetic polymer paint on canvas
134.1 x 135.3 cm stretcher
Signature & date
Signed and dated l.l. verso on stretcher [vertically], black fibre-tipped pen "Emily Kngwarreye_May'_92_E_ [logo]...".
Gift of John Eager 2014. Donated through the Australian Government's Cultural Gifts Program
Not on display
© Emily Kam Ngwarray. Licensed by Copyright Agency
Where the work was made
Shown in 3 exhibitions
Alhalkere, Utopia Art Sydney Pty Ltd, Alexandria, 1992–Unknown
Emily Kame Kngwarreye - Alhalkere - Paintings from Utopia:
- Queensland Art Gallery, South Brisbane 20 Feb 1998–13 Apr 1998
- National Gallery of Victoria [St Kilda Road], Melbourne 08 Sep 1998–22 Nov 1998
Emily Kame Kngwarreye, Utopia: the genius of Emily Kame Kngwarreye:
Referenced in 2 publications
Margo Neale and Akira Tatehata, Emily Kame Kngwarreye: Utopia: the genius of Emily Kame Kngwarreye, Japan, 2008, 143.
Margo Neale, Roger Benjamin, Anne Brody, Christopher Hodges, Philip Morrissey, Judith Ryan and Greg Weight, Emily Kame Kngwarreye - Alhalkere - Paintings from Utopia, South Yarra, 1998, 5.