Ada Bird Petyarre

Ada Bird Petyarre

Ada Bird Petyarre

Born: c. 1930

Deceased: 2009

Language Group: Anmatyerre

Country: Atnangkere, Utopia Region, North East of Alice Springs, Northern Territory

Medium: Acrylic on Canvas and Linen, Batik on Silk, Print Making

Subjects: Awelye (Women's Ceremony), Arnkerrthe (Mountain Devil Lizard) Dreaming, Bush Beans, Awelye (Women's Ceremony) for Arnkerrthe (Mountain Devil Lizard)

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 particular 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 Collection, Alice Springs, NT
Art Gallery of New South Wales, Sydney, NSW
National Gallery of Australia, Canberra, ACT
The Holmes à Court Collection, Perth, WA
The Kelton Foundation, Santa Monica, USA
University of Queensland, Anthropology Museum, St Lucia, QLD
Time before Time, Austral Gallery, St Louis, Missouri, USA
Contemporary Aboriginal Art, Art Gallery of New South Wales, Sydney, NSW
Utopia - A Picture Story, an Exhibition of 88 works on Silk by Utopian artists, Holmes à Court Collection, toured Eire and Scotland
Flash Pictures, National Gallery of Australia, Canberra, ACT
The Eighth National Aboriginal Art Award Exhibition, Museum and Art Gallery of the Northern Territory, Darwin, NT
Gallery Gabrielle Pizzi, Melbourne, VIC
New Tracks Old Land, Touring USA and Australia
The Tenth National Aboriginal Art Award Exhibition, Museum and Art Gallery of the Northern Territory, Darwin, NT
Mbantua Gallery, Alice Springs, NT
Caring for Country - Artists of Utopia, Tandanya National Aboriginal Cultural Institute, Adelaide, SA
Utopia Women, Red Desert Gallery, Eumundi, Sunshine Coast University and Noosa Blue Resort, QLD
Walkabout Indigenous Art Gallery, Sydney, NSW
Mbantua Gallery USA exhibitions
Seven Sisters, Chrissie Cotter Gallery, Sydney, NSW
Evolution of Utopia - opened by the Honorable Robert Hill, Mbantua Gallery, Alice Springs, NT
Brody, A.
(1990) Utopia: a Picture Story, 88 Silk Batiks from the Robert Holmes à Court Collection, Heytesbury Holdings, Perth, WA
Brody, A.
(1989) Utopia Women's Paintings The First Works on Canvas, A Summer Project 1988-89,, Heytesbury Holdings, Perth, WA
Morphy, H.
(1998) Aboriginal Art, Phaidon Press ©
Stanislawsk-Birnberg, M.
(1990) Journeylines ©