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Born circa 1930 at Atnangkere, western boundary of Utopia Station, 150 miles north-east of Alice Springs. Kathleen Petyarre belongs to the Alyawarre/Eastern Anmatyerre clan.
Her birthplace, Atnangkere, is an important water soakage for Aboriginal people. With her daughter Margaret and her sisters, she settled at Iylenty (Mosquito Bore) on Utopia Station near her birthplace. She started working in batik in 1977 and is now one of the most eminent Indigenous artists working today.
Known for her paintings displaying an extremely refined layering technique with intricate dotting, most of Kathleen’s dreamings include reference to Mountain Devil Lizard or Thorny Devil Lizard (Arnkerrthe), Women Hunting Emu and Dingo (Atnangkere).
She also refers to the clan country that serves not only as a creation site but a sacred place in which to reconnect with the Dreaming through various ceremonies. Two recent solo exhibitions at the Museum of Contemporary Art, Sydney demonstrate the high critical regard in which she is held. In 1996 Kathleen was the winner of the 13th Telstra National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Art Award.
Her paintings can be found in public and private collections all over the world and has been selected, along with just a handful of Aboriginal artists, for inclusion in the permanent collection of the new Musee du quai Branly in Paris.