Emily Kame Kngwarreye

Born c.1910 | Alhalkere
Lived and worked Alice Springs, Died 1996

Emily Kame Kngwarreye was a senior custodian of the Anmatyerre language group’s cultural sites and was considered the Boss Woman of the Alatyeye (Pencil Yam Dreaming) and Kame (Yam Seed Dreaming). It was not until she was in her seventies that Kngwarreye began to paint, presenting a broad picture of the land and how it supports the Anmatyerre way of life in a deeply emotional and expressive manner. These works on paper were inspired by the traditional body markings used in Awelye, a women’s ceremony. Awelye is the word used to describe the designs painted on the women’s chests and shoulders in ash, ground ochre, and charcoal during the ceremony, but more broadly refers to the content of the ceremony and the associated body of knowledge. During the late 1970s, Anmatyerre women performed Awelye to demonstrate their ownership of territories, stories and Dreamings. The practice and its political significance continue.

Emily Kame Kngwarreye, Untitled 1995. Acrylic on paper. 6 sheets, 74×50cm each.Courtesy Utopia Art Sydney, Private collection. Image courtesy Utopia Art Sydney