Museum of Contemporary Art, donated through the Australian Government’s Cultural Gifts Program in memory of Rodney Gooch, 2011
acylic on paper
H 77 W 52cm
H 74.6 W 99.7 D 4cm
Emily Kame Kngwarreye’s work is distinguished by its vitality, boldness and innovation. She was from the remote community of Utopia, north east of Alice Springs, and like other celebrated Aboriginal artists, she began painting late in life. Not only was her output prodigious, she developed five consecutive styles in the eight years before her death.
These works by Kngwarreye are drawn from the traditional body painting used in women’s ceremonies. The subject of Kngwarreye’s art was her traditional country and Awelye, her Dreaming. Awelye is the word used to describe the actual painted designs on the body, but it also has a broader meaning referring to the content of a ceremony and the associated body of knowledge. Thus these simple lines are much more than stylised body paint; there are many other references, including the lines left in the sand and cuts made in the upper arm as a sign of sorrow after a death.