Born: c. 1930
Language Group: Anmatyerre
Country: Atnangkere, Utopia Region, North East of Alice Springs
Medium: Acrylic on Canvas and Linen, Batik on Silk, Print Making
Subjects: Awelye (Women's Ceremony and Body Paint Designs), Arnkerrthe (Mountain Devil Lizard), Bush Bean
Ada was involved in the art movement of Utopia since its inception. She began with the Utopia Women's Batik Group in the late 1970's where her work was exhibited extensively and featured on the cover of the Utopia A Picture Story publication by A. Brody (Heytesbury Holdings, Perth, 1990). In 1988 Ada subsequently began painting with acrylics during CAAMA's Summer Project and continued in this medium until suffering a stroke 2004.
Ada's work is represented in many major and private collections all over the world. She is known for her bright, bold linear patterns often incorporating breasts, indicating women's ceremonial body paint designs associated with the Arnkerrthe (Mountain Devil Lizard) Dreaming for Atnangkere and Ahalkere Country. This Dreaming story was the most significant for Ada along with her sisters, Kathleen, Gloria, Myrtle, Violet, Nancy and Jean Petyarre (also known as the Seven Petyarre Sisters).
Ada always painted like her personality: vibrant, outgoing and blatantly honest! She was a lover of bright colours, in particularly blue, but also painted in more traditional and subdued colours. Fine detailed works are not traditional of her group nor were they any part of Ada's works. She is a traditional senior Aboriginal woman who involved and expressed herself to the fullest extent both on canvas and in her ancient culture, her most favoured works being the women's ceremonial body paint designs (Awelye) for the Mountain Devil Lizard (Arnkerrthe).
Ada had two daughters, June and Hilda and four sons, Paddy, Colin, Stephen and Ronnie. All married and had children of their own. Ada had over 30 grandchildren and 5 great grandchildren when she passed. When Ada was asked how many grandchildren she had she replied, whilst slowly shaking her head, 'too many!' Many of her large extended family have continued Ada's tradition and are Utopia artists too.
Mbantua Gallery Permanent Collection, Alice Springs
Art Gallery of New South Wales, Sydney
National Gallery of Australia, Canberra
The Holmes á Court Collection, Perth
The Kelton Foundation, Santa Monica USA
University of Queensland, Anthropology Museum, St Lucia
|1990||Utopia Art, Sydney|
|1999||Mbantua Gallery, Alice Springs|
|1999||Ginninderra Galleries, Canberra|
|2000||Mbantua Gallery, Alice Springs|
|2002||Mbantua Gallery, Alice Springs|
|2000||Artists of Utopia, Tandanya, S.A|
|2000||Utopia Women Red Desert Gallery, Eumundi, Qld/Sunshine Coast University/Noosa Blue Resort, Noosa Qld|
|2001||Young Presidents Organization University, Westin Hotel, Pitt Street, Sydney|
|2001||Walkabout Indigenous Art Gallery, Leichardt, Sydney|
|2001||Painting Country, Tandanya, S.A|
|2001||De Beer's Collection, Brookdale Galleries, QLD|
|2001||Seven Sisters Petyarre, Brisbane City Gallery, Brisbane|
|2002||Redback Art August exhibition|
|2002||Mbantua Gallery USA exhibitions: New City Merchants, Knoxville, TN; Art and Soul Gallery, Nashville, TN; 'The Cove Gallery' Portland, OR; Urban Wine Works, Portland, OR; Mary's Woods, Portland, OR|
|2003||Seven Sisters, Chrissie Cotter Gallery, Sydney|
|2003||Mbantua Gallery USA exhibitions: New City Merchants, Knoxville, TN; Art and Soul Gallery, Nashville, TN; 'The Cove Gallery' Portland, OR; Mary's Woods, Portland, OR|
|2003||Mbantua Gallery - Contemporary Aboriginal Art Event, Umpqua Bank, Portland, OR, USA|
|2004||Mbantua Gallery USA exhibition; Portland, Nashville, Knoxville, Hartford and Greenwich|
|2004||Evolution of Utopia, Mbantua Gallery Cultural Museum, Alice Springs|
|2005||Evolution of Utopia, Mbantua Gallery Cultural Museum, Alice Springs|
|2006||Evolution of Utopia, Mbantua Gallery Cultural Museum, Alice Springs|
|Brody, A.||1989 Utopia Women's Paintings The First Works on Canvas, A Summer Project 1988-89, exhib.cat., Heytesbury Holdings, Perth.|
|Brody, A.||1990, Utopia: a Picture Story, 88 Silk Batiks from the Robert Holmes a Court Collection|
|Morphy Howard.||Aboriginal Art, Publ Phaidon © 1998 Desart the Aboriginal art centers of Central Australia, Putting in the Colour Contemporary Aboriginal Textiles, Jukurrpa Books (IAD Press) ©2000 (photo reference)|
|Stanislawsk-Birnberg Margo.||Journeylines © 1990|
The linear work in Ada's painting represents Awelye (Women's Ceremony and Body Paint Designs) for the Arnkerrthe Dreamtime story. This story belongs to the people from Atnangkere and Alhalkere country in the Utopia region, northeast of Alice Springs. The women smear their bodies with animal fat then trace these patterns onto their breasts, arms and thighs. Powders ground from red and yellow ochre (clays), charcoal and ash are used as body paint and applied with a flat stick with soft padding. This stick is called a 'typale'. The women sing as each woman takes her turn to be 'painted-up'. Their songs relate to the ancestral travels of the Mountain Devil Lizard as it makes the long journey north to Waramugu country, carrying the ochre for body paint in the small sac on the back of its neck.
The Mountain Devil Lizard has the ability to camouflage itself by changing colours. The traditional colours used for ceremony are ochre red, yellow and white.
Dot work represents the country that Arnkerrthe travels across.