Born: c. 1943
Skin Name: Petyarre
Region: Utopia, Northern Territory
Subjects and Themes (Dreaming): Mountain Devil (Arnkerrthe) Women’s Ceremonial Design
The Aboriginal artist Nancy Petyarre was born at Atnarare Bore (Soakage Bore) on Utopia Station and lives at Atneltyey (Boundary Bore). She is one of the seven well known Petyarre sisters and shares with them the Dreaming of the Mountain Devil Lizard.
The sisters inherited the Mountain Devil Lizard Dreaming from their paternal grandmother. It tells the story of the Old Woman Devil Lizard who travelled across the country creating the landscape and identifying sacred sites.
As custodians of the Dreaming, Nancy Petyarre and her sisters are obliged to maintain the story and pass it on to the younger generation. In applying the designs of Arnkerrthe to the upper body for ceremony they are affirming and celebrating their connection to the land and the creator ancestor.
Nancy Petyarre is an indigenous artist who was one of the original participants in the 1977 Utopia Women’s Batik Program. She began painting with acrylic on canvas around 1988. In depicting her Dreaming story, Nancy Petyarre is noted for her linear style of painting using broad areas of colour to create the effect of the lizard’s skin.
Nancy Petyarre’s paintings have been exhibited widely in Australia and overseas. She is also well known for her carvings and wood block prints which are held in the National Gallery of Australia and the Art Gallery of New South Wales.
Painting/s by Nancy Petyarre: