Lindsay Bird Mpetyane

Born: c. 1942

Language Group: Eastern Anmatyerre

Country: Ilkawerne , Utopia Region, North East of Alice Springs

Medium: Acrylic on Canvas and Linen, Batik on Silk

Subjects: Tyankern (Mulga Berries), Ntang Artety (Mulga Seed), Ahakeye (Bush Plum), Utnea (Carpet Snake), Arekwarr (Wild Pigeon), Little Wallaby, Witchetty grub, Arrkernk (Bloodwood Seed), Elcudjera (Prickle), Arlkeny (Men's Body Paint), Inpernp (Yellow Throated Bird), Spear Straightening

One of few male Utopia artists (although under Lindsay's instruction there are more than previous years), Lindsay is an important tribal leader of his country, Ilkawerne, in the Utopia District which is North East of Alice Springs. Married to Mavis Petyarre, they have three daughters, Rosie, Jessie and Karen Bird Ngale.

As an important tribal leader of his country, Lindsay must choose a successor to continue to teach new generations about the lore's and stories of his culture. Though light hearted and full of good humour he acknowledges the dim possibilities of his people eventually losing their interest in their rich culture and history. Painting for Lindsay is not only a passion, but a sincere desire to continue his legacy of teachings and encourage the growth and interest of the Ilkawerne youngsters.

After the Utopia batik movement of which Lindsay was the only male to participate in, in 1987 Lindsay started painting with a number of women and a handful of men including Louie Pwerle, Gloria Petyarre and Ada Bird. His paintings are both iconic and linear and close to his spirit. He uses the traditional symbols to tell his stories on canvas, including concentric circles which represent the significant 'place' of the story (for example the Bush Plum tree) or a sacred part of the men's story. Lindsay also uses his four traditional colours, consisting of the two ochres (yellow and red), black and white, each with specific meaning. He is also known for under painting the canvas usually in grey. Black, used in most Utopia art backgrounds, is a symbolic colour to Lindsay, where grey is a neutral colour for him to use. This makes his paintings quite unique.

Over the years, Lindsay has been an amazing source of information to Mbantua, enabling the traditions of his culture to be written down and passed on to art lovers throughout the world. Lindsay's enthusiasm for teaching about culture has also been captured on DVD, by Mbantua Media Department, with Lindsay's permission. The DVD, now available for purchase, was presented as a gift to HRH Prince of Wales on his Royal Australian Tour in 2005.


Art Gallery of Western Australia, Perth

The Holmes á Court Collection, Perth

Kelton Foundation, Santa Monica, USA

Kluge-Ruhe Collection, USA

Mbantua Gallery Permanent Collection, Alice Springs

Museum of Victoria, Melbourne

National Gallery of Australia, Canberra

Parliament House – Art Collections, Canberra

Powerhouse Museum, Sydney

Queensland Art Gallery, Brisbane

Solo Exhibitions

1989 Syme - Dodson Gallery, Sydney
2002 Anmatyerre Men, World Vision, Walkabout Gallery, Sydney
2003 Lindsay Bird, Mbantua Gallery, Alice Springs
2007 Lindsay Bird Mpetyane, Mbantua Gallery, Alice Springs

Group Exhibitions

1988 The Fifth National Aboriginal Art Award Exhibition, Museum and Art gallery of the Northern Territory, Darwin
1990 Utopia A Picture Story, an exhibition of 88 works on silk from the Holmes á Court Collection by Utopia artists which toured Eire and Scotland
1990 Tagari Lia, My Family, Contemporary Aboriginal Art 1990- Australia, Third Eye Centre, Glasgow, UK
1990 Contemporary Art from the Robert Holmes a court Collection, Harvard University of Minnesota, Lake Oswego Center for Arts USA
1991 Aboriginal Art and Spirituality, High Court, Canberra
1991 The Eighth National Aboriginal Art Award Exhibition, Museum and Art Gallery of the Northern Territory, Darwin
1991 Flash Pictures, National Gallery of Australia
1994 Central Australian Aboriginal Art and Craft Exhibition, Araluen Centre, Alice Springs
1998 Dreamings Exhibition, Vlaams-Europeesch, Brussels, Belgium
1998 Dreamings Exhibition, Spazio Pitti Arte, Florence, Italy
1998 Art Gallery Kunsthuys, The Netherlands
1998 Mbantua Gallery, Alice Springs
1999 Spirit Country, Fine Arts Museum of San Francisco, USA
1999 Artists of Utopia, Tandanya, SA
2001 Young Presidents Organization University, Westin Hotel, Sydney
2002 Mbantua Gallery USA exhibitions: Mbantua Gallery USA exhibitions: Art and Soul Gallery, Nashville TN; 'The Cove Gallery' Portland OR; Urban Wine Works, Portland OR; Mary's Woods, Portland OR
2003 Mbantua Gallery USA exhibitions: New City Merchants, Knoxville TN; Art and Soul Gallery, Nashville TN; 'The Cove Gallery', Portland OR; Contemporary Aboriginal Art Event, Umpqua Bank, Portland OR; Mary's Woods, Portland OR; Art From The Dreamtime, Portland Art Museum, Portland OR
2004 Mbantua Gallery USA exhibitions: Portland, Nashville, Knoxville, Hartford, Greenwich, New York and Philadelphia
2004 'The Utopia Men', Mbantua Gallery, Alice Springs
2004 Evolution of Utopia, Mbantua Gallery Cultural Museum, Alice Springs, NT, opened by the Honorable Robert Hill
2005 Evolution of Utopia, Mbantua Gallery Cultural Museum, Alice Springs, NT, opened by the Honorable Robert Hill
2005 'Small Wonders', Mbantua Gallery, Alice Springs, NT
2006 Evolution of Utopia, Mbantua Gallery Cultural Museum, Alice Springs, NT, opened by the Honorable Robert Hill


Further References

Brody, A. Utopia: a Picture Story 88 Silk Batiks from the Robert Holmes á Court Collection, Heytesbury Holdings Ltd, Perth
Johnson V. 1994 The Dictionary of Western Desert Artists, Craftsman House, East Roseville, New South Wales
Isaacs, J. Spirit Country, Contemporary Australian Aboriginal Art, Hardie Grant Books © 1999