Born: c. 1921
Language Group: Alyawarre
Country: Ngkwarlerlaneme and Arnkawenyerr, Utopia Region, North East of Alice Springs
Medium: Acrylic on Canvas and Linen, Wood Carving
Subjects: Country, Yerrampe (Honey Ant), Tyape (Witchetty Grub)
Billy Morton Petyarre started painting in 1989. He was a committed artist who had his first solo exhibition just two years later in 1991 in Sydney, NSW. One of the first artists in the Utopia region to begin wood carving, he has since gone on to become an acclaimed artist and leading sculptor, where his works have featured in many public and private collections and exhibitions around the world.
Billy usually painted about his Honey Ant (Yerrampe) and Witchetty Grub (Tyape) Dreamings. His paintings depicted many of the ancient design elements associated with these stories that come from Ngkwarlerlaneme and Arnkawenyerr country, just North of Utopia. Concentric circles were used to represent significant sacred sites, locations and water holes, where background dotting reflected designs for all the stories from his Ngkwarlerlaneme country.
The honey ant and the witchetty grub are both very much favoured foods of desert aborigines. Billy saw his art as playing a significant role in teaching their stories to the younger generation of men in his community, along with all other traditional dreamings; a duty he took very seriously indeed as he was the traditional owner of his country. He used to share this ownership with Left Hand Sam Uramba (dec).
A very spiritual man, who held true to the ancient laws and customs of his ancestors according to the traditions of his people, he lived in Arnkawenyerr with his wives, Mary Morton and Katie Kemarre, whom are also both established artists. Between both wives, Billy had nine children who have all shown an interest in art themselves, following in the footsteps of their artist parents.
Mbantua Gallery Permanent Collection, Alice Springs
|1991||Utopia Arts, Sydney, NSW|
|2004||'Father's of Utopia', Mbantua Gallery, Alice Springs|
|2004||Mbantua Gallery USA exhibition; Knoxville, Tennessee|
|2004||The Utopia Men, Mbantua Gallery, Alice Springs|
Billy's painting illustrates the design elements associated with the Honey Ant Story from Ngkwarlerlaneme and Arnkewenyerra country north of Utopia. The concentric circles represent significant sights/water holes associated with the stories from his country.