Ada Bird Petyarre

Born: c. 1936 – 2009
Skin Name: Petyarre
Region: Utopia, Northern Territory
Language: Anmatyerre

The Aboriginal artist Ada Bird Petyarre who passed away in 2009 was internationally acclaimed for her bold, colourful and linear designs associated with Awelye for Arnkerrthe – women’s ceremonial body paint designs for the Mountain Devil Lizard. There are only very few paintings of Ada Bird Petyarre available for sale and they are becoming increasingly difficult to source.

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Ada Bird Petyarre was born c. 1936 on Utopia Station at Atnangkere, approximately 270 kms north of Alice Springs in the Northern Territory of Australia. She died in 2009.

Ada Bird Petyarre was one of the seven well known Petyarre sisters and shared with them the Dreaming of the Mountain Devil Lizard (Arnkerrthe).

Along with her sisters, Ada Bird Petyarre was one of the original artists who participated in the successful 1977 Utopia Women’s Batik program. She was introduced to painting with acrylic on canvas in 1988 when she took part in CAAMA’s “A Summer Project”, which launched the women artists of Utopia on to the world stage. She had her first solo exhibition in 1990.

Ada Bird Petyarre was internationally acclaimed for her bold, colourful and linear designs associated with Awelye for Arnkerrthe – women’s ceremonial body paint designs for the Mountain Devil Lizard.

Whilst incorporating traditional designs and patterns, Ada Bird Petyarre’s paintings are an abstract and contemporary representation of her country and Dreaming.

There are only very few paintings of Ada Bird Petyarre available for sale and they are becoming increasingly difficult to source and for this reason will most likely experience a dramatic increase in price since she was one of the founders of the Utopia art movement.

Collections
Robert Holmes a Court Collection; National Gallery of Australia; Art Gallery of New South Wales; Richard Kelton Foundation, Santa Monica, USA; University of Queensland Collection”
From: Aboriginal Artists, dictionary of biographies by Janusz B. Kreczmanski and Margo Birnberg
(This illustrated dictionary of 446 pages showing many photographs of Aboriginal artists and Aboriginal paintings is available from Boomerang Art.)

“Born on the old Utopia Station at Atnangkere, Ada Bird Petyarre became very well known for her beautiful and bold paintings done with acrylics on canvas. The batik programme at Utopia started in 1977. With a group of other Aboriginal artists, she was introduced to painting in acrylics in CAAMA’s Summer Project in 1988. Two years later, in 1990, Ada had her first solo exhibition at Utopia Art in Sydney. She paints Dreamtime stories from the Atnangkere country, which she shares with her sisters: Gloria, Myrtle, Kathleen, Violet and Nancy.

Selected exhibitions:
Utopia Art, Sydney;
1988 numerous group exhibitions with other Utopia batik artists, including Queensland Art Gallery, Brisbane;
1988 Aboriginal “Dot” Painting, Melbourne;
1989 Australian National Gallery, Canberra;
1990, 1994 National Gallery of Victoria, Melbourne;
1989 Art Gallery of New South Wales, Sydney;
1991 Harvard University, Boston, U.S.A.;
1998 Araluen Arts Centre, Alice Springs;
1993 Art Gallery of Western Australia, Perth;
1997 Sutton Gallery, Melbourne;
1997, 1999, 2000 Aboriginal Art Galleries of Australia, Melbourne;
1999 Embassy of Australia, Washington;
1999, 2000, 2002, 2003 Chapel off Chapel, Melbourne;
2000 ‘From Utopia to Kintore”;
2000 Aboriginal Art Galleries of Australia, Melbourne;
2001 ‘Icons of Australian Aboriginal Art’, Singapore;
2003 Glen Eira City Gallery, Melbourne.

Selected collections:
National Gallery of Australia, Canberra;
Robert Holmes a Court Collection, Perth;
Art Gallery of NSW, Sydney;
Art Gallery of South Australia, Adelaide;
Museum of Victoria, Melbourne;
Museum and Art Gallery of the Northern Territory, Darwin;
Aboriginal Art Galleries of Australia;
Powerhouse Museum, Sydney;
University of Queensland, Brisbane;
Artbank, Sydney;
Richard Kelton Foundation Santa Monica, USA.

Awards:
1997, finalist in 14th NATSIAA.

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Painting/s by Ada Bird Petyarre: