Language Group: Anmatyerre
Country: Alhalkere, Utopia Region, North East of Alice Springs
Medium: Acrylic on Canvas and linen, Wood Sculpture
Subjects: Atnwelarre (Pencil Yam), Kame (Pencil Yam Seed), Country, Awelye (Women's Ceremony), Atham-areny Story, Awenth (Dogwood Tree Seed), Bush and Camp Scenes, Emu Dreaming
Josie was involved in the 1980's batik movement that established the women artists of Utopia. In 2005 she began painting for Mbantua Gallery and paints Dreamtime stories passed down to her from her father's country, Alhalkere, as well as colourful depictions of life at Utopia.
Josie's mother, renowned artist Polly Ngale, sisters and aunties are all Utopia artists and the years spent watching them provided inspiration to her. Like most members of her community, Josie speaks little English but is very enthusiastic about painting and sees it as a means of language and expression of her stories and culture.
Having lived in a number of communities within Utopia over the years, including Homestead, Boundary Bore and Apungalingum, Josie is no stranger to travel and has proudly travelled to Perth, Melbourne and Darwin for her artwork. Josie continues to live out in Utopia with her husband, Dinny Kunoth Kemarre, their children and their extended family.
The linear designs in Josie's painting represent awelye (women's ceremony and body paint designs) for Atnwelarre (pencil yam) and Anwekety (conkerberry). These designs are painted onto the chest, 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 the songs associated with their awelye as each woman takes her turn to be 'painted-up'.
The Atnwelarre is a trailing herb or creeper, sometimes covering large areas, with bright green leaves, yellow flowers and long skinny yams (swollen roots). These are an important food source which can be eaten raw or cooked in hot sand and ashes.
Anwekety is a sweet black berry that is favoured by desert aboriginals. They only grow on the plant (Carissa lanceolata) for a few weeks of the year, however Josie's people collect plenty of them and store them dry, soaking them in water again before being consumed.