Born: c. 1934
Language Group: Anmatyerre
Country: Atnangkere, Utopia Region, North East of Alice Springs
Medium: Acrylic on Canvas and Linen, Batik on Silk and Cotton
Subjects: Arnkerrthe (Mountain Devil Lizard), Awelye (Women's Ceremony and Body Paint Designs), Bush Medicines, Grasses
Nancy was the second eldest of the 'seven famous Petyarre sisters' from the Utopia region. She shared the story of Arnkerrthe, the Mountain Devil Lizard, with her sisters and each had their unique way of painting it. Nancy was most well known as an artist for her fine dot designs representing the skin on the back of this gentle creature.
Nancy was not a prolific artist and earned immense respect in the industry from her passion and dedication for painting which also reflected her personality. In the latter years of her life, Nancy painted very few paintings and turned to some linear work for more ease. Initially, Nancy was part of the original group of women to participate in batik workshops and her work in this is represented in the Robert Holmes á Court collection. Her artwork is also in collection at the National Gallery of Australia.
Nancy passed away peacefully at Utopia in August 2009 after suffering a stroke in Alice Springs. She requested to be buried next to Emily Kame Kngwarreye in a little known spot along the Sandover Highway.
Edith Cowan University - University Art Collection, Perth
Mbantua Gallery Permanent Collection, Alice Springs
National Gallery of Australia, Canberra
The Holmes á Court Collection, Perth
|1989||Aboriginal Art, The Continuing Tradition, National Gallery of Australia, Canberra|
|1989||Utopia Women's Paintings, the First Works On Canvas, A Summer Project, 1988-89, S.H. Ervin Gallery, Sydney|
|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|
|1992||Central Australian Aboriginal Art and Craft Exhibition, Araluen Centre, Alice Springs|
|1993||Central Australian Aboriginal Art and Craft Exhibition, Araluen Centre, Alice Springs|
|1994||Central Australian Aboriginal Art and Craft Exhibition, Araluen Centre, Alice Springs|
|1994||Central Australian Aboriginal Arts and Craft Exhibition, Araluen Centre, Alice Springs|
|1994||Yapakurlangu Wirrkardu, Bachelor College, Tennant Creek, NT|
|1999||June-August, 'Caring for Country Artists of Utopia', Tandanya, S.A|
|2001||Mountain Devil Lizard Arnkerrthe, Myrtle Petyarre, Nancy Petyarre and Violet Petyarre, Mbantua Gallery, Alice Springs|
|2001||Seven Sisters Petyarre: Brisbane City Gallery, Brisbane|
|2002||Redback Art Utopia Women|
|2002||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||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; 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 and Hartford|
|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|
|Brody, A.||1989, Utopia Women's Paintings: the First Work on Canvas, A Summer Project 1988-89., cat., Heytesbury Holdings, Perth ©|
|Brody, A.||1990 Utopia, a Picture Story, 88 Silk Batiks from the Robert Holmes á Court Collection, Heytesbury Holdings Ltd Perth ©|
The linear work in Nancy'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. 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 Waramungu country, carrying the ochre for body paint in the small sac on the back of its neck. The long linear work stretching across the painting represents the tracks along this journey as well as the spine of Arnkerrthe.
Arnkerrthe has the ability to camouflage itself by changing colours. The traditional colours used for ceremony are ochre red, yellow and white.