Gloria Tamerre Petyarr

c.1945 - Present



Region: North Eastern Central Australia

Residence: Utopia

Country: Anungra

Language: Anmatyerr

For over a decade Gloria Tamerr Petyarr has produced works of art that have constantly reshaped our understanding of contemporary central Australian Aboriginal art. Her identity as an artist rests comfortably in duality with her cultural and family responsibilities. Easing between these two worlds with immense presence and grace, Gloria continues to practice the fine art of life perpetuating her culture and her artistic pursuits.

Gloria is perhaps our most exhibited, travelled and diverse living Indigenous artist. Her works have been acquired by major public institution and countless private collections both within Australia and internationally. She is regarded as being at the centre of painting in Utopia's history; an artist whose originality and diversity exemplifies the evolution, particularly of women`s art from the eastern region of Central Australia.

Her work represents her Anmatyarr cultural heritage and the stories of Anungra, her country. Her affection for her favourite story, of Arnkerrth, the Mountain devil lizard, comes from the heart, her career and work bearing testament to this inseparable relationship which provides the inspiration, spiritual beliefs and economy for this remarkable artist. Arnkerrth's (pronounced An-gert-a) story centres around the journey of two Apetyarr and two Kngwarreys who travelled in a line bringing to the country of Anungra, it's dreamings, laws and ceremonies.

Through the use of abstraction and repetition, Gloria`s articulation of her Awelye has taken on many representation, whereby her brush work has enabled her to continually open up fields within the canvas. Her ability to constantly re invent the visual representation of her story is unsurpassed, rendering this artist, the most diverse of this international art movement. Notions of identification and categorisation of her subject matter are subverted by an artist who rests her thinking in the concepts of multiplicity and plurality. Always drawing from her story which is inseparable from her culture, Gloria`s work represents one of the most powerful attributes of Central and Western Desert art.

Where as rational western thinking catergorises objects, identifiying the singular by naming, grouping or coding, Gloria has extended the visual language of her story as her career has evolved. She continually adds to and broadens the language of her story and country, her subject matter remaining the same, while her visual representation and identification of her dreaming continues to explore new horizons.

It was the culmination of batik techniques coupled with the early referencing of body stripes associated with Awelye, womens dreaming, that uniquely positioned artists from Utopia at the fore front in a new direction in painting. Where as painting in the Western Desert which was also constructed from ceremonial knowledge used formal designs of mens sand paintings, artists in Utopia who were predominately women, approached the canvas with looser and more direct painting practices associated with the inscriptions of body designs.

Body Stripes and broader concepts of country, where tiny dots articulate topographical notions of the 'lay of their lands', have emerged from Utopia as immediately identifiable features of their art. During this unsurpassed period of art production in Australia's history, Gloria has continuously expanded and elaborated these contemporary visual languages.

Painting, therefore is an incredibly diverse language Gloria speaks. Her direct and confident approach to the canvas is quietly balanced with periods of ceremonial singing, as she sings her story into the fibres and liquid marks of her painting. Her arching and ever present lines are sourced from her cultural vocabulary and abstracted within the repetition of line or brush stroke. Gloria`s playful marks are a reflection of her delight in consuming the void of a new canvas which, laid out on the ground in front of her, beckons to be filled in. Her open field is approached with a knowledge of the lay of her land, while her palate is a selection of contemporary colours from her country.


Allen, Allen & Hemsley

Art Gallery of New South Wales

Australian National Gallery

Campbelltown City Art Gallery

Flinders University, South Australia

Gold Coast City Art Gallery

Griffith University Collection

Mornington Peninsula Regional Gallery

Museum of Victoria, Melbourne

National Gallery of Victoria

Powerhouse Museum, Sydney

Queensland Art Gallery

Queensland University of Technology

Riddoch Art Gallery, S.A.

Supreme Court, Brisbane

The Robert Holmes a'Court Collection

University of New South Wales

Wadsworth Atheneum, Hartford, U.S.A.

James D. Wolfensohn Collection

Woollongong City Art Gallery

Macquarie Bank

University of the Sunshine Coast, Queensland

Museums and Art Galleries of the Northern Territory


Memory as Landscape, October Galleries, London

Summer in the Desert, Hogarth Galleries, Sydney

Petyarre Sisters, Indigenart, WA

New Works by Gloria Petyarre, Indigenart, WA

2002 Crossroads: the Millennium Portfolio of Australian Aboriginal Prints, Singapore Art Museum

2001 The Art of Gloria Petyarr, Lauraine Diggins Fine Art, Melbourne

Seven Sisters Petyarre, Brisbane City Gallery

Desert Flowering: Aboriginal Art from Private Collections, Manawatu Gallery, New Zealand

Dreamtime: the Dark and the Light, Kunst der Gegenwart, Vienna, Austria

5th National Indigenous Heritage Art Award (Reconciliation Prize), Old Parliament House, Canberra

Gloria Tamerre Petyarre: a survey exhibition, touring New England Regional Art Museum and Manly Art Gallery

Utopia: Ancient Cultures New Forms, Art Gallery of Western Australia, WA

Wynne Prize, Art Gallery of New South Wales

Utopia: Ancient Cultures New Forms, Gallery Petronis, Malaysia

Gloria Tamerre Petyarre: a survey exhibition, Campbelltown City Bicentennial Art Gallery

The Third National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Heritage Art Award, Old Parliament House, Canberra

recipient of a Full Fellowship Grant from the Aboriginal & Torres Strait Islander Board of the Australia Council

studied tjap printing technique at the Brahma Tirta Sari Studio, Yogyakarta, Indonesia

Tapestry Commission for the Law Courts, Brisbane, Queensland

Tapestry for Victorian Tapestry Workshop, Melbourne

first solo exhibition, Utopia Art, Sydney, Gloria has regularly exhibited since this time

travelled to Ireland, London and India with A Picture Story

commenced painting on canvas and participated in CAAMA`S, 'Utopia Women's Painting; The First Works of Canvas: A Summer Project, S.H. Ervin Museum, Sydney, 1989

A Picture Story batik project organised by CAAMA (The Central Australian Aboriginal Media Association), exhibited in 1990

Achievements, Collections & Commissions


Wynne Prize, Art Gallery of New South Wales