Kaylene Whiskey was born in Mparntwe (Alice Springs) in 1976. In 2018 the self-taught artist won the Sulman Prize. In 2019 she won the Telstra National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Art Award for general painting. This year she is an Archibald Prize finalist for the first time.
In her self-portrait she’s imagined a visit by one of her heroes, the American singer-songwriter Dolly Parton, to her home in the Aṉangu Pitjantjatjara Yankunytjatjara (APY) Lands in the remote north-west of South Australia, where she works in the Aboriginal-owned and governed community art centre, Iwantja Arts.
‘It’s one of my dreams for Dolly to come and visit me in Indulkana,’ says Whiskey. ‘I love to listen to her music while I paint: “9 to 5”, “Coat of many colours”, “Jolene”, and my number one, “Islands in the stream” with Kenny Rogers. I often think, “If Dolly came to visit, what would she do? What would she say? And what would she be wearing?”
‘I had a lot of fun bringing Dolly to Indulkana on the canvas. Once I had finished the painting I thought, “You know what? Dolly needs more sparkles”, so I added the plastic jewels as the finishing touch!’
This work is now in the collection of the Art Gallery of NSW.