Violet Petyarre was born circa 1945 at Atnagkere, on the western boundary of Utopia Station, 250 kilometers, north-east of Alice Springs in the Northern Territory of Australia. Violet belongs to the Anmatyerr clan group and speaks Eastern Anmatyerr with English as a second language.
Violet Petyarre settled at Iylently (Mosquito Bore) near Utopia Station with her seven sisters, including Kathleen, Gloria, Nancy, Myrtle, Ada and Gina establishing a family camp which she still frequently re-visits today.
Violet commenced painting on batik and silk in 1977 and in 1988 started to paint with acrylics on canvas. She shares the Dreamings : Arnkerrth (Mountain Devil Lizard Dreaming) Engcarma (Bean) Unyara (Emu) Annlara (Pencil Yam) Kadjeta (Grass Seeds) Elaitchurunga (Small Brown Grass) Awelye (womens body paint design) with her sisters Ada, Myrtle, Jeannie, Nancy, Gloria and Kathleen.
Violet (with her brothers and sisters) has custodial rights of the Arnkerrth Dreaming (Mountain Devil Lizard), which together with its associated narrative, is referenced in many works of Violet Petyarre
Originally working with batik tie-dying Violet’s artistic endeavors commenced 1977, with Batik Colours were then applied and these bright fabric panels were then sewn into garments that were welcomed by the Utopia women. Also Violet used woodblock printing techniques, in which her Dreaming references were burnt into wood with hot wire and then ‘stamped’ onto fabric.
Violet Petyarre delicately portrayed her Mountain Devil Lizard Dreaming through complex lines and dotting drawn on silk textiles (National Gallery of Victoria Collection). In 1988 her works-on-canvas followed this style, which she produced alongside her sister Kathleen Petyarre and her Aunt, the late Emily Kame Kngwarreye.
With other Utopia women, Violet Petyarre’s first works-on-canvas evolved through a special local project entitled ‘Utopia Women’s Paintings - A Summer Project 1988-1989’ (The Holmes a’ Court Collection). This project engendered a new direction of artistic output, launching Utopia as a major centre for Indigenous art and placing it firmly within the context of the Australian contemporary art scene.
During the 1990s Violet Petyarre oeuvre shifted with her Body painting series which portrays a more structured composition: the essence of her Dreaming laid bare, stripped of adornment, powerfully evoking true abstract expressionism form.
In 2007, Violet Petyarre continued artistic experimentation through the introduction of bold new colours, giving her celebrated works a bright new contemporary lustre.
Violet Petyarre has firmly positioned herself as a major exponent of the ever-evolving Utopian and Australian contemporary art movements.
Currently Violet Petyarre divides her time between Iylently, Adelaide and Amaroo Station.
Violet Petyarre’s role as a foundation member of the Utopia arts community together with her artistic individualism has firmly endorsed her position as an important contributor to Australia’s art history.
• 2002 Solo Exhibition, Fire-works Gallery, Brisbane, Qld.,
• 1980 Utopia Batik, Artworks Gallery, Alice Springs. NT, Australia
• 1989 “Utopia - A Picture Strory: 88 Silk Batiks from the Robert Holmes a Court Collection”, Meat Market Gallery, Melbourne, Vic, Australia.
• 1989 “A Summer Project: Utopia Womens Paintings (The First Works on Canvas), S.H. Ervin Gallery, Sydney, NSW, Australia.
• 1989 Orange Regional Gallery, Orange, NSW, Australia.
• 1989 Coventry Gallery, Sydney, NSW, Australia.
• 1989 Tandanya Aboriginal Cultural Institute, Adelaide, Australia
• 1989 S.H Ervin Gallery, Sydney, Australia
• 1990 The Perth Institute of Contemporary Art, Perth, WA, Australia.
• 1990 The Royal Hibernian Academy, Dublin, Ireland.
• 1990 The Crawford Municipal Art Gallery, Cork, Ireland.
• 1990 Limmerick City Gallery of Art, Limmerick, Ireland.
• 1990 James Ford Bell Museum, University of Minnesota, USA.
• 1990 Lakewood Centre for the Arts, Lake Oswego, USA.
• 1995 Hot Wax National Touring Exhibition, Museum & Art Gallery of the Northern Territory, Darwin, NT, Australia.
• 1996 Gallerie Australis, Adelaide, SA, Australia.
• 1996 Art Gallery of South Australia, Adelaide, SA, Australia.
• 1997 Songlines Gallery, Amsterdam, Netherlands.
• 1997 Coo-ee Gallery, Sydney, N.S.W.
• 1997 Dreampower, Art of Contemporary Aborigional Australia, Museum Puri Lukisan, Ubud, Indonesia.
• 1997 Dreampower, Art of Contemporary Aborigional Australia, Galerie Ardiyanto, Jogyakarta, Indonesia.
• 1997 Dreampower, Art of Contemporary Aborigional Australia, The National Gallery, Jakarta, Indonesia.
• 1997 The Alice Prize Art Exhibition, Alice Springs, N.T. Australia.
• 1997 Japingka Gallery, Desert Designs, Perth, W.A. Australia.
• 1998 Our Country Then and Now, Gallerie Australis, Adelaide, S.A. Australia
• 1998 Raiki Wara: Long Cloth from Aboriginal Australia and the Torres Strait, National Gallery of Victoria, Melbourne, Vic, Australia, 3rd September.
• 1998 15th Telstra National Aboriginal & Torres Strait Islander Art Exhibition, Darwin, NT, Australia,
• 1998 “Belonging to Mother Earth” - Indigenous Wisdom and Healing Conference, Virginia Beach, Virginia, U.S.A.
• 1999 Utopia Dreamings, Japingka Gallery, Perth W.A. Australia
• 1999 North by North East, Landscape & Ceremonial paintings from Utopia, Alcaston Gallery, Melbourne, Victoria, Australia
• 1999 SALA Week, Gallerie Australis, Adelaide, SA.
• 1999 Joint Indonesian - Utopia Batik Workshop for Third Pacific Arts Triennial of Contemporary Art, Brisbane, Qld.
• 1999 16th Telstra NATSIAA, Museum & Art Gallery of the Northern Territory, Darwin, NT.
• 2000 Utopia Recent Works, King Street Gallery, Perth, WA.,
• 2002 SALA Festival, Gallerie Australis, Adelaide, SA,
• 2002 Violet Petyarre & Abie Loy, Art Empire, Mary Place Gallery, Paddington, 2000 The Collection, Gallerie Australis, Adelaide, South Australia,
• 2002 Utopia, Framed Gallery, Darwin, Northern Territory,
• 2003 Glen Eira City Council Gallery, Melbourne, Australia
• 2004-2006 redrock gallery, Melbourne, Australia.
• 2006redrock gallery, Group Exhibition, Relocation Exhibition, South Yarra, Aust
• 2007 June, redrock gallery, Group Exhibition, Gallery Grand Opening Beijing, P.R China
• 2007 July,redrock gallery, Group Exhibition China World Exhibition Centre, Beijing P.R China
• 2007 Auguest, redrock gallery, Group Exhibition, Grand Hyatt Hotel, Beijing, P.R China
• 2007 November, redrock gallery, Group Exhibition, International Art Expo, Beijing, P.R China
2008 July redrock gallery,Beijing, 2nd Gallery Opening, Group Exhibition, Beijing, P.R China
2008 November redrock gallery, Beijing: A Women’s Exhibition Beijing, P.R China
• 1994 The Brahma Tirta Sari Studio Artists Workshop run by Angus Ismoyo and Nia Fliam, Jogyakarta, Indonesia.
• 1997 Museum Puri Lukisan, Ubud, Indonesia.
• 1997 Art Gallery of South Australia, Desert Artists-in-Residence, Adelaide, South Australia
• 1999 16th Telstra NATSIAA, Museum & Art Gallery of the Northern Territory, Darwin, NT.,
• 1999 Joint Indonesian - Utopia Batik Workshop for Pacific Arts Triennial Exhibition, Brisbane, Qld.
• 1998 Australian Delegate, “Belonging to Mother Earth” - Indigenous Wisdom and Healing Conference, Virginia Beach, Virginia, U.S.A.
• Adelaide Festival Centre Trust Collection, Adelaide, South Australia.
• The Adelaide University Art Collection, Adelaide, SA, Australia.
• The Australian Embassy Collection, Jakarta, Indonesia.
• The Holmes à Court Collection, Perth, WA, Australia.
• The Art Gallery of South Australia, Adelaide, SA, Australia.
• Mem Aziz Collection, Melbourne, Australia
• The Kelton Collection, Los Angeles, USA.
• Museum Puri Lukisan, Ubud, Indonesia.
• The National Gallery of Victoria, Melbourne, Vic.
• The Museum & Art Gallery of the Northern Territory, Darwin, NT
• Artbank, Australia
• Various Private Collections