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Audrey Morton (b 1952) 

Ilyarnayt (Acacia Flower)

30x30 cm. Acrylic on linen Canvas


    All of Audrey's Dreamtime stories belong to her country, Ngkwarlerlaneme and Arnkawenyerr. This painting is inspired by the Dreamtime story of the Ilyarn or Ilyarnayt, a rare and attractive plant growing throughout Central Australia.


    This plant is particularly favoured for the abundance of edible grubs living in the roots, known simply as Ilyarnayt, and also its seeds (Ntang Ilyarnayt) which are collected, ground into a paste and used for making damper (bread).


    Born in the NT in 1952, Audrey is the daughter of fellow Utopia artist Mary Morton Kemarre.

    Her sisters Lucky, Sarah and Ruby Morton are also well known in the Aboriginal art industry. Along with her mother and sisters, Audrey participated in batik workshops that were held in Utopia from 1977 to 1987. Her work is represented in the Holmes à Court Collection which was exhibited extensively within Australia and abroad.


    Audrey, like her sisters, paints an extraordinary variety of stories which they say come from two Countries. These countries are Ngkwarlerlaneme and Arnkawenyerr of which she belongs to. Audrey can also paint the ceremonial body paint designs belonging to these countries and also her mother's country Antarrengeny.


    Utopia has produced some of the most recognisable names in Aboriginal art and is notable for its strong tradition of discovering female artists. This continues today with a new generation of talented painters who are inspired by greats such as Emily Kame Kngwarreye, Gloria Petyarre, Kathleen Petyarre and Ada Bird who worked at Utopia.

    The legacy of these pioneering woman is a diversity of style and approach that welcomes hundreds of other artists from the Utopia clan groups.

    It is a region of approximately 5,000 sq km north-east of Alice Springs and is home to around 2,000 aboriginal people. The region largely lies on aboriginal owned land called Urapuntja, it is made up of several larger communities and some very small ones.

    Art is by far the largest source of employment in an area which lacks employment opportunities and skills. There are well over 250 professional artists in the region. The creative movement in Utopia began with batik and the work they produced came to international attention and was exhibited around the world. When painting reached the communities in the late 1980’s, acrylic paint on canvas with its quick drying and no mess properties, soon overtook batik.

    This is a multi-generational art movement that has led Utopia's artists to become leaders in female aboriginal art.

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