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Ada Bird Petyarre
, 1990

by Anne Zahalka

direct positive colour photograph (sheet: 70.2 cm x 70.2 cm)

Ada Bird Petyarre (c. 1930–2009), painter and printmaker, was an Anmatyerre woman from the Northern Territory, and one of seven sisters who all became notable artists. She was born on the pastoral lease Utopia, located in the Sandover region north-east of Alice Springs, and did domestic work on the station as a young woman. As was so for her kinswoman, Emily Kame Kngwarreye, Petyarre’s art practice commenced in the late 1970s when the Utopia women were introduced to batik and other dying and textile painting techniques. She was one of the founding members of the Utopia Batik Group, whose work became an important industry for the Anmatyerre following the return of Utopia to its traditional owners in 1978. A collection of 88 silk batiks was acquired by the Holmes à Court Collection in 1988 and was the subject of the book Utopia: A Picture Story, published the same year. Petyarre made her first painting on canvas in 1988 and held the first of her several solo exhibitions at Utopia Art, Sydney, in 1990. Subsequently, her paintings were included in major group shows in Australia and overseas, and were acquired for the collections of public institutions including the National Gallery of Australia, the Art Gallery of New South Wales and the Art Gallery of South Australia.

Collection: National Portrait Gallery
Gift of the artist 2002
Donated through the Australian Government's Cultural Gifts Program
Accession number: 2003.13.2