Kathleen Petyarre

Kathleen Petyarre was born at Atnangkere in 1940, an important water soakage for Aboriginal people on the western boundary of Utopia Station, 150 miles north-east of Alice Springs in Australia‘s Northern Territory. She belongs to the Alyawarre/Eastern Anmatyerre clan and speaks Eastern Anmatyerre, with English as her second language. Kathleen, with her daughter Margaret and her sisters, settled at Mosquito Bore at Utopia Station, near her birthplace.

She started working in batik in 1977 when an adult education instructor, Jenny Green, arrived in Utopia and organised batik workshops. The last few years, from about 2003 onwards, have seen a bolder style emerge, with clusters of larger dots and stronger lines alongside the very fine textures for which the artist is known.

While this style has been decried in some quarters as being less refined, it has also been hailed as being a logical artistic development towards a more powerful and dramatic mode of expression, „perhaps more abstract, certainly more modern in its technicality and presentation“.

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