Gloria was born in about 1945 at Atnangkere Soakage in the Northern Territory. She is an Anmatyerre speaker and has 6 sisters: Ada Bird, Violet, Myrtle, Kathleen, Nancy and Jeannie. Currently, she lives at Mulga Bore (Akaye Soakage) Utopia. Gloria Petyarre has participated in both group and solo exhibitions since the 1980's.
Gloria first gained recognition in silk batik which began at Utopia in 1978 with exhibitions held nationally and internationally. In 1988 Gloria was part of the very first group to experiment with canvas, called the Summer Project, and Gloria has since continued to work in this medium. Awelye, the women's ceremonial body paint designs, was the subject of Gloria's very first painting, she recalls. Over the years Gloria has applied many methods of enhancing the simple linear work in her Awelye paintings, including using sponges, hand work and even a toilet brush.
Her dreamings include Mountain Devil Lizard, Bean, Emu, Pencil Yam, Grass Seed, Small Brown Grass, Wild Flowers, Bush Flowers and Bush Medicine. One of Gloria's most important Dreamtime stories is that of Arnkerrthe, the Mountain Devil Lizard. Arnkerrthe travelled over Gloria's land creating all of the people, sacred sites, songs and other Dreamtime stories. In its neck it holds a sac of ochre that Gloria and her people use for ceremonies. Gloria has developed a very popular style for Arnkerrthe Dreaming that she calls the 'swirly ones'. A unique design by Gloria, these swirls represent the thorny skin on the back of this gentle little lizard.
By far the most well known of all Gloria's paintings is Leaves. In April 1994 at Mosquito Bore in Utopia, Gloria began doing something new on her canvas. "That first one. I was looking, looking. Looks like leaf, and I been put another one and another one and 'ah yeah'. First leaf." (Gloria Petyarre). Throughout the years this design has become more refined, leaves aren't just scattered on the ground but rather picked up in swift passing zephyrs, entangled in whirls of wind and swept across the landscape.
In 1999 Gloria won the prestigious art award, the Wynne Prize, for the Best Australian landscape. The Wynne prize is awarded annually for the best landscape painting of Australian scenery or for the best example of figure sculpture by Australian artists.
Gloria has travelled to Ireland, London, Paris, USA, Singapore, Malaysia and other countries exhibiting her works. Her work is included in the collections of the Australian National State Galleries including the National Gallery of Australia, the Powerhouse Museum -Sydney, Westpac New York, Holmes Court and many other private collections.
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