Kinaway – About these artworks


Please Note:

This biography and artwork meaning Intellectual Property including Indigenous Cultural Intellectual Property belongs to Dreamtime Art, the artists/their estates and is subject to copyright. To protect these copyrights, no reproduction of any or all parts is allowed unless there is prior written permission and approval by Dreamtime Art.


Indigenous Culture and Community
Indigenous people of Australia have spent thousands of years as the original custodians of this country, managing the landscape through knowledge passed down with thousands of generations. Passing knowledge through ceremony and initiation passages asserts a responsibility to all people in community; to play a vital role in ensuring the balance of life and culture are maintained.

60,000 years of knowledge places Indigenous people as the oldest continuous living culture adapting to environmental extremities, surroundings and living conditions such as two glacial maximums (ice ages). Knowledge as custodial responsibility are vital for sustaining the relationship between, people, community, environment, Dreaming and ultimately life; therefore, increasing their chances of survival.

Each member of the Indigenous community plays a part in sustaining the balance to the complex Indigenous society; conceptually, a part of an imaginary chain that interlinks each individual into a strong community network. A break in this link sees the loss of knowledge and an end of custodianship; a threat in the fragility of Indigenous life. The understanding of taking care of the land, rather than owning it transcends the principles of possession. Indigenous people take only what is needed to provide for its people. Agreements with neighbouring communities saw the harmony between shared boundaries and ceremonies around trade.

Aboriginal Art Origins
Aboriginal Art has place in Indigenous communities reflecting an ancestry as old as time immemorial. Ceremony, knowledge, tradition, lore (law), customs and country are shared as connectedness through oral traditions, song, dance and art.

Painting through sand, caves and body encapsulates intergenerational knowledge imparted onto each custodian. For Indigenous communities this is literacy.

Seasons of change, navigation throughout landscapes, creation stories, initiations are transferred through family groups ensuring guardianship, authenticity and preservation which are intrinsic and offer completeness in managing country.

Aboriginal Art becomes the integral aspect of continuation of Aboriginal knowledge and intergenerational wisdom and can be described as old as yesterday, yet as contemporary as tomorrow.  



Jeannie Petyarre

LANGUAGE:       Anmatyerre
REGION:              Utopia NT
DREAMING:       Alhalkere Country (My Country), Bush Leaf Medicine, Yam Dreaming, Women’s Body Paint, Mountain Devil Lizard

Jeannie Petyarre is an established Utopian artist and is niece to the late and famous (Aunt) Emily Kngwarreye who also encouraged her to paint.

Jeannie was born in the early 1950’s on the Boundary Bore Outstation of Utopia and in the early 1980’s, Jeannie was introduced to the art of Batik. (The Batik Program in 1977 opened the doors for the people of Utopia. This program allowed artists to paint with acrylic paints for the first time.) In 1990, Jeannie’s art painted on silk batik titled ‘Alhalkere Country’ was featured as one of the 88 silk batiks in the Robert Holmes a Court Collection and featured in their book “Utopia – A Picture Story”. Jeannie pays homage to her country, land and ancestors through her Dreamtime stories.

Jeannie’s art and stories stem from her inherited Alhalkere country. Her family extends to a long list of artists; sister to famous artists Greeny Purvis Petyarre, Evelyn Pultara, Rosemary Petyarre and Anna Price Petyarre and the cousin of the celebrated group of female Utopian artists Gloria Tamerre Petyarre, Nancy Kunoth Petyarre, Myrtle Petyarre, Kathleen Petyarre, Violet Petyarre, Ada Bird Petyarre and Jean Petyarre.

Dreaming – ‘Bushleaf Medicine’

Bush leaf Medicine and the art of knowing where and what to collect from the myriad of plants and trees found in the desert has long been a part of traditional Aboriginal life and culture and plays an integral role in the secret world of Aboriginal womens’ business.

Many different plants offer various medicinal purposes and they are collected and stored for use at different times of the year.  There is a great variety of medicine leaves and plants that are used. Colour of the leaves vary with the season and type of plants it is extracted from. These leaves offer a variety of medicinal value. Many plants contain anti-bacterial and anti-inflammatory compounds that are known and commonly used today in Western medicine.

The many ways Aboriginal women use bush leaf medicine include:
Boiling the leaves to extract essential oils (oil is then mixed with animal fat eg kangaroo, emu or goanna turning the mixture into a paste and used as required). Can be crushed or chewed. Placed on a fire and the steam and smoke is inhaled. Soaked in water and the infusion drank like tea or washed over the body

Bush medicine have been used for centuries by the Aborigines to quell ailments such as:
Headaches
Coughs
Colds
Fevers
Diarrhoea
Wounds, Cuts and Contusions
Aches and Pains
Stings
Sore Eyes
Toothaches

Some of the mixtures are used for other purposes also such as:
Bug Repellent
Fishing tool (to stun fish when certain mixtures are thrown into the water)

The traditional method of treatment of using bush leaf medicine to cure illnesses that occur during normal bush life is still is a mystery to most non-Indigenous people. Since the dawn of time, the Indigenous people of Australia have been co-existing with the land have been passed down their stories to family members through verbal stories and paintings, never written down. Plenty of information has been lost but Jeannie Petyarre and many women from the Utopia community share their colourful representations of bush leaf medicine in their unique and creative way.


Esther Bruno Nangala 

LANGUAGE:       Pintupi
REGION:              Kintore/Kiwirrkurra
DREAMING:        My Country

Esther Bruno Nangala was born around 1981 and is from Kintore/ Kiwirrkurra, Northern Territory and comes from an acclaimed heritage as the granddaughter of renowned artist Naata Nungurrayi. In 1999, the door to the art world opened up for her. This was the year that her grandmother, Naata Nungurrayi who is an iconic artist of the desert art movement (known for her depiction of “Women’s Law” and “Tingari Cycle”) took her as her apprentice.

Her first paintings were collaborative and she only began to be truly recognized as an individual artist in 2009. Her Dreamings are stories around important Women’s sites and her work is a tapestry of intricate design and her use of bold colour is reminiscent of her grandmothers work.

Esther’s artworks today are visually stimulating with an intricate design of interwoven textures, bold colours and heavy dotting reminiscent of her grandmothers’ style and representing the exhilarating potential of desert art in the years ahead.

Esther has also gone beyond being an artist using her multilingual abilities to become involved in important cross cultural initiatives by translating Pintupi songs into English and bringing Western and Indigenous cultures closer through the expression of music.

Dreaming – ‘My Country’

‘My Country’ evokes the landscape of  the artists’ country and their homelands. It usually represents weather changes, topographical maps, places to find bush tucker, water and shelter.

The concept of ‘My Country’ translated into art is the artists’ understanding of their connection to this land. My Country represents the ancestry that connects Aboriginal artists and people with their predecessors through Dreaming and Creation stories. If country is not respected, then essentially we fail our land as a society leaving no future.

Songlines and travel lines transverse Australia as an intricate super highway of routes steeped in traditions filled of song, dance and ceremony where fundamentally knowledge of the land was apparent through the intimacy of walking country. Walking in the footprints of our ancestors is an important aspect to Indigenous culture today.

Indigenous people live in harmony with the surrounding environment and have created the landscape through management practices such as firestick farming. Today it has become more evident to land management practices, the roles that Indigenous people play in this custodial passage becoming recognised as a standardised practice today.

Connection means everything in Indigenous life. Community, family, country, responsibility, dance, ceremony, beliefs, lore (law) and systems all encapsulate what it means to be Indigenous. Without these connections, the result is loss of identity; the identity which makes each person unique and individual.

‘My Country’ represents one’s land, one’s home, a place of belonging and is the quintessential connection between people, place, food and resources and life.


Janet Golder Kngwarreye

LANGUAGE:       Anmatyerre
REGION:              Utopia NT
DREAMING:       Bush Leaf Medicine, Women’s Body Paint

Janet’s ancestral line is full of famous artists, her grandfather is Kudditji Kngwarreye and her great auntie is Emily Kame Kngwarreye. Though the subject matter of Janet’s art is popular among the women artists of Utopia, she still manages to produce artworks that are identifiably hers.

Her art and her choices in palette colours are pleasing to the eye and has a universal appeal as it creates interest and a relaxing ambience to any room her art is displayed in.

Her art is colourful and harmonious depicting Body Paint and Bush Medicine Leaves in an array of intertwined colours. She creates artworks that are evident of her strong artistic blood.

Dreaming – ‘Women’s Body Paint’

Women’s Body Paint is a woman’s Dreaming associated with women’s business for sacred ceremonies and specifically refers to women’s designs painted on their bodies. It is a spiritual, sensuous and meditative performance and makes connections with the fertility of the land and a celebration of the aboriginal food it provides.

Women’s ceremonies begins with the women painting each others’ bodies in designs relating to a particular women’s Dreaming and in accordance with their skin name and tribal hierarchy. Ochre, charcoal and ash are ground to powder consistency and the paint is applied for up to three hours using a flat stick with padding or applied directly with  fingers in raw linear and curved lines.

Painting each other with body paint is a rite of passage, the act of decorating the body transforms the individual and changes their identity and role within their own community.

The Dreamings painted may represent animals, plants, healing and law. The senior women chant their Dreaming while painting and the final part of the ceremony is when the women dance and chant.

These sacred and spiritual ceremonies symbolises the importance of the role of women in Aboriginal culture. It is performed by Aboriginal women to recall their ancestors and shows respect for their country demonstrating the women’s responsibility for the wellbeing of their community as nurturers of the land and their country.