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Painting by Utopia artist Doreen Payne Petyarre


Doreen Payne Petyarre (b. 1954) 

Unititled ​(Yerrampe - Honey Ant)

30 x 30cm. Acrylic on linen Canvas


    Doreen paints the Dreaming story of Yerrampe (Honey Ant) which belongs to her country, Ngkwarlerlaneme and Arnkawenyerr.


    Yerrampe are a sweet bush food for the aboriginal people, found underneath the ground of certain trees. When digging for Yerrampe, care is taken not to kill or hurt them so they can go on and collect more honey. The sac on the back of the honey ant is pure natural honey.


    Born in 1954 in the NT, Doreen's paintings can comprise of colourful patterns of tiny dots when describing her country or the Yerrampe (Honey Ant) Story, or strong, bold, linear work when illustrating Awelye (Women's Ceremonial Body Paint Design). Her paintings always associate with the stories from her father's country, Ngwarlerlaneme, North West of the Utopia Region.


    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, most of them have never attended an art class!

    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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