About the Artwork

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.

Emily Kame Kngwarreye

– About the artist

b.Circa 1910 d.1996

Emily Kame Kngwarreye, in a short but brilliant career, carved out a deserved reputation as one of Australia’s most important artists. From birth she lived on her Country, Alhalkere, in the remote desert north east of Alice Springs. Her unique art encompasses the breadth, substance, history and meaning of her precious land, which was her enduring subject.

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Related Exhibitions

Volume One: MCA Collection

– Museum of Contemporary Art Australia (MCA) 2012

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