Country: Alhalkere, Utopia Region, North East of Alice Springs, Northern Territory
Medium: Acrylic on Canvas and Linen
Subjects: Atnwelarre (Pencil Yam) and Kame (Seed), Awelye (Women's Ceremony), Bush Tucker
Evelyn is a well known and respected artist of the Utopia region, though she began her career much later than others of her age and prestige. The Utopia Art movement began in 1978 with the Utopia Women's Batik Group and moved on to acrylic painting during CAAMA's Summer Project in 1988. Evelyn began painting with depictions of traditional bush tucker and awelye (women's ceremonial body paint designs) in 1997 well after it began, but quickly became a sought after artist with her representation of the Pencil Yam Dreaming.
Atnwelarre, the pencil yam, and Kame, the seed of this plant, are very important Dreamtime stories that belong to Evelyn's country Alhalkere in the Utopia Region, North East of Alice Springs. The Atnwelarre is a trailing herb or creeper, sometimes covering large areas, with bright green leaves, yellow flowers and long skinny yams (swollen roots) which are an important food source and can be eaten raw or cooked in hot sand and ashes. It has been said that Evelyn's paintings impart the rhythm of the yam corroborree enacted and retold through song and dance and it is her responsibility to pay homage to it in this way, and now also through her artwork.
Evelyn has a strong culture of painting in her family. Some artists to note are her brother the late Greeny Purvis Petyarre, sister Dolly Mills Petyarre and her great aunt, the late Emily Kame Kngwarreye who was dubbed by art experts as one of the world's best modern and abstract artists.
While Evelyn's work has been shown in group exhibitions since the late 1990's, her first solo exhibition was held at the World Vision Gallery in Sydney's Leichardt in 2003. This was followed by solo shows in Milan, Melbourne and Sydney. In 2005 Evelyn won first prize in the General Painting section of the 22nd Telstra National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Art Award at the Museum and Art Gallery of the Northern Territory, Darwin. This award is the most prestigious art award for indigenous artists in Australia.
Mbantua Gallery Collection, Alice Springs, NT
Museum and Art Gallery of the Northern Territory, Darwin, NT