GLORIA PETYARRE

Gloria was born around 1945 in her country of Atnangkere. She lived in the traditional ways before moving to one of the established settlements, Utopia. The Utopia Pastoral Lease was drawn up in 1927 and forced many of the Aboriginal people in this area out of their traditional lands. In 1977 the people of Utopia gained a 99 year leasehold on the Utopia Pastoral Lease which was purchased through the Aboriginal Land Fund Council. The commission employed a white manager during the first year to provide a transition for the cattle operation. This proved unsatisfactory and the community began to discuss moving back to their traditional lands.

All this change in 1977, with the beginnings of the Batik program, which excelled providing the town of Utopia with an income and a claim of recognition.

Gloria was one of the original artist employed in this program. The batik program was a major success, with Gloria being one of the leading artists in this format. Her work gained rapid recognition and was seen by Rodney Gooch from CAAMA. He approached the Utopia artists with a plan called 'A Summer Project'. The idea was simple, supply the women and men with canvas and acrylics and have them use their techniques on Batik in the new format. The project was a major success, with Gloria and many other artist moving full time into acrylic on canvas.

Gloria paints the traditional women business subjects, which are predominant in Utopia. The store of white understanding is heavily influenced by the sex of the contact. In Papunya the contact was Geoffrey Bardon, therefore most of the original artist were male. In Utopia the arts advisor was female, allowing the female artists of this area to flourish.

The leading artists quickly mastered the manipulative possibilities. Not only did a huge range of colors emerge, but a far greater tonal range than they were able to achieve with batiks. Gloria stands out here, with her work she uses close tonal values of different colors, creating a dynamic optical intensity. Her work features powerful structural linear patterns derived from body painting, outlined with single dots. At other times the structural pattern becomes submerged in a sea of dots, the tonal relationships causing the structural pattern to dissolve into the base design of her painting.

She continues to develop her paintings to higher levels of abstraction, continually experimenting with line and color. She says she prefers the greater freedom and control she finds with the medium of acrylic on canvas. several of her works now have no dots at all, but bands of different color whose optical effects have evoked comparison to the British artist Bridget Riley.

Gloria’s main Dreamings that she paints are the Mountain Devil Lizard, Bean, Emu, Pencil Yam, Grass Seed and Small Brown Grass and well as the traditional body paint designs worn by women.

In 1990 Gloria traveled to Ireland, London and India as a representative of the Utopia Women in the 'Utopia - A picture Story' exhibition. (Tandanya, Adelaide, The Royal Hibernian Academy, Dublin Ireland and the Meat Market Gallery in Melbourne.)
In 1991 she had her first solo exhibition at Utopia Art in Sydney. Since then she has exhibited at the National Gallery in Canberra, Art Gallery of New South Wales, Jinta Desert Art in Sydney and the Powerhouse Museum in Sydney.

Gloria is also featured extensively in major collections around the world. The National Gallery of Australia, the Robert Holmes a' Court Collection, Museum of Victoria and the Powerhouse Museum.