Angelina Ngal

c.1947 - Present


Angelina Ngal (Pwerl) 1947-
Language: Anmatyerr
Country: Aharlper
Residence: Camel Camp, Utopia
Grandfather's language: Anmatyerr
Grandfather's country: Aharlper
Grandmother's language: Alyawarr
Grandmother's country: Ngkwelay (Kirrajong Bore)

Born to Nellie Petyarr at Utopia Homestead, Angelina was wife number one to artist and sculptor, Louis Pwerl (1935-1999) (Number two wife is Sarah Morton Kngwarrey). Angelina lives at Camel Camp near Three Bores in Utopia with her extended family.

As senior custodians, the sisters Kathleen, Poly and Angelina Ngal share great responsibility as keepers of cultural knowledge for their country Aharlper, located in the heart of Utopia, 250 kms North East of Alice Springs. Angelina began her career in late 1979, involved in the production of Batiks at Utopia, taught by Toly Sawenko and Jenny Green prior to the introduction of painting on canvas in the mid to late 1980s. Angelina worked alongside artists such as Emily Kngwarrey, Ada Bird, Gloria, Kathleen, Nancy and Violet Petyarr. Quickly adapting to painting on canvas, it has largely been in this medium that Angelina has gained both international and national recognition.

Although originally intended to facilitate an income for the community during their battle for permanent legal title to their land at Utopia, the Batik Project was highly successful and resulted in a major exhibition at the 1981 Adelaide Art Festival, ''Floating Forests of Silk: Utopia Batik from the Desert''. In 1988, CAAMA (The Central Australian Aboriginal Media Association) commissioned a number of batiks by the women at Utopia, and the eighty-eight presented, formed the opening exhibition at Tandanya Aboriginal Cultural Institute in Adelaide. After touring to Ireland, the exhibition was purchased in its entirety by the Robert Holmes a Court Collection.

Earlier in her career, Angelina, when married to Louie Pwerl and living at Ngkawenterre, perhaps under the influence of her late husband, the older brother of Cowboy Loy Pwerl honed her skills as a sculptor of striking and bold simplified forms decorated with bright colours or natural ochres. Although she has sometimes been known by her husband's name, as Angelina Pwerl, Pwerl in the Alyawarr language is the equivalent to Ngal in the Anmatyerr language, Angelina is an Anmatyerr speaker. In some cases, because of the close proximity of these two language groups there has been some confusion as to the names and spelling of a number of these artists. The names and spelling in this text accords with Jenny Green who has compiled the dictionaries for both language groups.

Angelina moved to painting on canvas in 1988-9 as part of the CAAMA project with the Utopia women's paintings, ''The First works on Canvas: A Summer Project'', curated by Anne Brody, and exhibited at the S.H.Ervin Museum, Sydney. Angelina does not include iconography in work which has evolved in the past decade and depicts a contemporary dialogue or translation of the cultural, geographic, social and religious components of her life. Her paintings are layered and can be read and appreciated at a superficial level for their abstractionism and painterliness. The deeper layer, which depicts the cultural and social mores of her society, requires further probing to be fully appreciated.

Angelina's painting is a sophisticated play between the cultural knowledge of her country and the contemporary expression formed through the medium of synthetic polymer paint. Thousands of dots of colour are rained across her canvas denoting flora and the geographical and sacred sites of the Bush Plum. Amongst the subjects Angelina paints, is her grandfather's country, Aharlper. The landscape may appear to be harsh desert to outsiders, but to the people who live at Utopia, the subtle shifts in seasons and colours are well recognized - from the bright blue of the sky, to the myriad of greens and carpet of flowers after the rains.

She also depicts ''Anwekety'', the Bush Plum (Conkerberry) and the wildflowers of her country, which she represents through a focus of many coloured dots flooding the canvas. Angelina has further extended her painting of Country maintaining a layer of meaning related to the Bush Plum, but in which her translation of points of geography, elements of knowledge of places and timescapes or memories of hunting or ceremonial business, result in a subtle and textured surface that hints to the viewer of an ethereal landscape. She, like the famed Emily Kngwarray (Kngwarreye), the most famous artist to emerge from Utopia, exhibits a progressive quality in her painting.

Angelina also portrays her mother's country which is located near Aharlper within the Utopia homelands. On a superficial level the painting depicts the myriad of coloured wildflowers which populate the landscape in spring, however on a deeper level the story deals with various locations which are special and significant to women. In this way the painting acts like a map of the land and Angelina builds her painting up in the various layers of colours to produce a final shimmering effect. Using a handful of pointed sticks dipped in coloured paint, Angelina uses her keen sense as a colourist to enable the painting to sing.


Selected Exhibitions

Angelina Ngal: Aharlper Country, joint exhibition at Cooee Art, Sydney and Lauraine Diggins Fine Art, Melbourne
Know my name: Australian Women Artists 1900 - now, National Gallery of Australia, Canberra

Camel Camp and Beyond, Japingka Gallery, Fremantle

Time and Space, Niagara Galleries, Melbourne

Sandover River Stories, Japingka Gallery, Fremantle

Finalist, The Blake Prize, National Art School Gallery, Sydney
Finalist, 21st Tattersalls Club Landscape Art Prize, Brisbane
Angelina Pwerle, New Paintings, Niagara Galleries, Melbourne

An Individual Perspective: From the Indigenous Collection of Lauraine Diggins, Deakin University Art Gallery, Deakin University, Burwood
Blake Prize, The Blake Society, National Art School Gallery, Sydney
Paintings from Utopia, Rebecca Hossack Gallery, London

Moscow World Art Fair, Manege, Moscow
Wynne Prize for Landscape Painting, Art Gallery of New South Wales, Sydney
25th National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Art Award, Darwin, N.T.
Emily Kngwarray and her Legacy, Art Front Gallery, Tokyo, Japan

Utopia Today, Lauraine Diggins Fine Art, Melbourne
Visions of Utopia, Cooee Art, Sydney
Memory as Landscape, Masterpiece @IXL, Hobart
My Way: A Survey of Utopia Arists, Woolloongabba Art Gallery, Brisbane
Journeys and Dreams, Gecko Gallery, Brisbane

ArtParis Contemporary Art Fair, Grand Palais, Paris, France
23rd National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Art Award, Darwin, N.T.
Holmes a Court Gallery, Perth
Angelina Ngal, Lauraine Diggins Fine Art, Melbourne
Tattersalls Landscape Art Prize, Brisbane
ArtParis Contemporary Art Fair, Grand Palais, Champs Elysees, Paris

Memory as Landscape, October Gallery, London, in association with Lauraine Diggins Fine Art, Melbourne
Niagara Galleries, Melbourne

Spirituality and Australian Aboriginal Art, Madrid and touring regional Spain
Niagara Galleries, Melbourne

BlickDicht - An- und Einblicke: Zeitgenössische Kunst australischer Aborigines, Adelhausermuseum, Freiburg, Deutschland (in Kooperation mit Aboriginal Art Galerie Bähr, Speyer)
Kunst der Aborigines, Leverkusen, Deutschland (in Kooperation mit Aboriginal Art Galerie Bähr, Speyer)
Traumpfade Zeitgenössische Malerei australischer Aborigines, Städtische Galerie, Traunstein, Deutschland (in Kooperation mit Aboriginal Art Galerie Bähr, Speyer)
Tre världsbilder: Samtida konst fran tre kontinente, Folkens Museum Etnografiska, Stockholm, Schweden

Niagara Galleries, Melbourne

28th Alice Prize, Araluen Centre for Arts and Entertainment, Alice Springs
14th National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Art Award, Museum and Art Gallery of Northern Territory, Darwin

Utopia Body Paint: The Oval Paintings Collection, Bishop Museum, Hawaii
Araluen Centre for the Arts, Alice Springs

Utopia Women, Museum of Contemporary Art, Aboriginal Painting, Austral Gallery, St. Louis, USA

1988 - 89
Utopia Women's Paintings: The First Works on Canvas, A Summer Project, SH Ervin Gallery, Sydney.

1977 - 88
Utopia Batik, Araluen Centre for Arts & Entertainment, Alice Springs, exhibited with Utopia women artists in Australia and abroad

Achievements, Collections & Commissions

Blake Prize 2009, Finalist
Telstra National Aboriginal & Torres Strait Islander Art Award 2008, Finalist
Wynne Prize 2008, Finalist

Aboriginal Art Museum, Utrecht, The Netherlands
Adrian Newstead Collection, Sydney
Allen, Allen and Hemsley Collection, Sydney

Art Gallery of New South Wales, Sydney
Art Gallery of Queensland, Brisbane
Art Gallery of South Australia, Adelaide
Art Gallery of Western Australia, Perth
Artbank, Sydney
Australian Unity, Melbourne

Benalla Art Gallery, Benalla
Commonwealth Law Courts, Melbourne
Holmes a Court Collection, Perth
Kerry Stokes Collection, Perth
Lauraine Diggins Collection, Melbourne
Latrobe University Collection, Melbourne

Mansion Hotel, Melbourne
National Gallery of Australia, Canberra
National Gallery of Victoria, Melbourne
National Museum of Art, Osaka, Japan
Royal Alexandra Hospital for Children, Sydney
Shepparton Art Gallery, Shepparton

Tampa Museum of Art, Florida, USA
The Metropolitan Museum, New York, USQ
Wadsworth Athenaeum, Connecticut, USA

private collections Australia and internationally


Dreamtime: Zeitgenössische Aboriginal Art, Edition Sammlung Essl (Hrsg.), Klosterneuburg 2001, Ausst. Kat., ISBN: 3902001038

Meeuwsen, Franca, Aboriginal Kunst, de verhalen vertellen, Zwolle 2000, ISBN: 9040095078

The Oxford Companion to Aboriginal Art and Culture, Kleinert, S. and Neale, M. (Hrsg.), Oxford University Press, Melbourne 2000, ISBN: 0195506599

Tre världsbilder, Samtida kons frän tre kontinenter, Guenther, M., Gurt, C.J., Ohre, L., et al., Kulturperspektiv 12, Populärvetenskaplig skriftserie utgiven av Folkens Museum Etnografiska Stockholm, Stockholm 2000, Ausst. Kat., ISBN: 9185344427

Boulter, M., The Art of Utopia: A New Direction in Contemporary Aboriginal Art, Craftsman House, 1991

Brody, A., Utopia Women´s Paintings: The First Works on Canvas, A Summer Project 1988-89, The Robert Holmes à Court Collection, Heytesbury Holdings, Perth, 1989

Griss, Victor (ed), An Individual Perspective: From the Indigenous Collection of Lauraine Diggins, Deakin University Art Gallery, Deakin University, Burwood

Isaacs, J., 'Bush Gardens', Art and Australia, vol. 35, no.4, 1998

Lovell, Ruth, Utopia Today, Lauraine Diggins Fine Art, North Caulfield, Victoria, 2007