Emily Kame Kngwarreye Indigenous Australian, c.1910-1996


Born: Alhalkere, Soakage Bore, NT

Language Group: Anmatyerre

Community: Utopia, NT


Emily Kame Kngwarreye was born around 1910 at Alkahere (Soakage Bore). She is one of the most successful artists to come out of Utopia and is arguably amongst the most important Australian painters of the last two decades. Her "Earths Creation" sold for a record $2,100,000.00 in late 2017- the highest price ever paid for an Australian woman artist at auction.


An Eastern Anmatyerre speaker and one of the senior artists of the Utopian art Movement, like many other women at Utopia, Emily moved into painting with acrylics during the summer of 1988-89 with 'A Summer Project'.  Emily happily moved from her silk batik work into this new medium, which gave her more creative freedom to explore different painting techniques. Her paintings reflect the layered transparency of batik, but her colour is translucent and has been built up through many touches of paint which overlap and meet to create an illusion of depth and movement.


The emphasis on Emily's paintings is on the spiritual meaning, based in the tradition of her people. At first she painted aspects of her culture that are sacred, falling foul of the tribal elders. This led to her creating paintings of her culture as a whole, in her words she paints, “whole lot”.  Though many Aboriginal paintings are focused on Tjukurrpa, Emily chose to present a very broad picture of the land and how it supports their way of life.


Emily, in her 80th year was described by the art collector, Michael Hollows, as being one of the most unusual and graphic of all Australia's renowned Aboriginal artists.



Major collections:

National Gallery of Australia, Canberra
National Gallery of Victoria, Melbourne
The Art Gallery of NSW, Sydney
Queensland Art Gallery, Brisbane
Art Gallery of South Australia, Adelaide
Art Gallery of Western Australia, Perth
Museum and Art Gallery of the Northern Territory, Darwin
Parliament House Art Collection, Canberra
ATSIC Collection, Canberra
The Araluen Centre of Arts and Entertainment, Alice Springs, NT
Powerhouse Museum, Sydney
Artbank, Sydney
Museum of Victoria, Melbourne
Campbelltown City Art Gallery, Sydney
Benalla Art Gallery, Victoria
University of New South Wales, Sydney
University of Sydney Union, Sydney
University of Wollongong Art Museum, NSW
University of New England, NSW
Victoria University of Technology, Melbourne
Flinders University Art Museum, Adelaide
Allen, Allen & Hemsley, Sydney
BP Australia
Transfield Collection, Sydney
The Holmes a Court Collection, Heytesbury
Auckland City Art Gallery, New Zealand
The Kasumi Co. Collection, Japan
Kelton Foundation, Los Angeles, USA
K.L.M. Royal Dutch Airlines, Amsterdam, Holland
Chartwell Collection, New Zealand
Donald Kahn Collection, Lowe Art Museum, University of Miami, USA
The Vatican Collection, Rome, Italy
Numerous significant private collections in Australia and overseas

Selected solo exhibitions:

1990: First solo exhibition, Utopia Art Sydney
1990-97: Utopia Art Sydney
1990: Coventry Gallery, Sydney
1990-93: Gallery Gabrielle Pizzi, Melbourne
1991, 93, 95: Hogarth Galleries, Sydney
1991: Eastern Desert Art, Brisbane
1994: Rebecca Hossack Gallery, London
1994, 96, 97: Chapman Gallery, Canberra
1995, 96: William Mora Galleries, Melbourne
1995, 97: DACOU Aboriginal Gallery, Adelaide
1995: Parliament House, Canberra
1996: Philip Bacon Galleries, Brisbane
1996: Framed Gallery, Darwin
1996: Niagara Galleries, Melbourne
1997: Robert Steele Gallery, New York
1998-99: Major survey exhibition 'Emily Kame Kngwarreye "Alhalkere" Paintings from Utopia', Queensland Art Gallery; The Art Gallery of NSW; National Gallery of Victoria

Selected Group Exhibitions:

1987: Utopia Women's Batik Group, in Australia and abroad
1988: 'Contemporary Aboriginal Art', Utopia Art Sydney
1988: 'A hanging Relationship', SH Ervin Gallery, Sydney
1989: 'Art from Utopia', Austral Gallery, St Louis, USA
1989: 'Mythscapes: Aboriginal Art of the Desert', National Gallery of Victoria, Melbourne
1989: 'Aboriginal Art from Utopia', Gallery Gabrielle Pizzi, Melbourne
1990: 'Contemporary Aboriginal Art from the Robert Holmes a Court Collection', travelling to Boston, USA; Minneapolis, USA; Oregon, USA; Missouri, USA; Art Gallery of NSW, Sydney
1991: 'Aboriginal Women's Exhibition', Art Gallery of NSW, Sydney
1991: 'Through Women's Eyes', ATSIC travelling exhibition
1993-94: 'Flash Pictures: by Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Artists', National Gallery of Australia, Canberra
1993-94: travelling to numerous state and regional galleries in NSW, Queensland, Northern Territory, South Australia, Victoria and Tasmania
1994: 'Power of the Land: Masterpieces of Aboriginal Art', National Gallery of Victoria, Melbourne
1995: 'Place and Perception: New Acquisitions, Parliament House Art Collection', Parliament House, Canberra
1996: 'Dots', National Gallery of Victoria, Melbourne
1996: 'Spirit and Place', Museum of Contemporary Art, Sydney
1996: Eye of the Storm: Eight Contemporary Indigenous Australian Artists', National Gallery of Australia, Canberra
1997: 'Fluent' Emily Kame Kngwarreye, Yvonne Koolmatrie, Judy Watson', Venice Biennale, Italy
2009: Size Matters, Kate Owen Gallery, Sydney, NSW
2018: Earth's Creation, Kate Owen Gallery, Sydney, NSW

Awards and Recognition

2009 Top 50 Collectable Artists, Australian Art Collector Magazine
2005 Top 50 Collectable Artists, Australian Art Collector Magazine
2000 Top 50 Collectable Artists, Australian Art Collector Magazine
1992 Australian Artists Creative Fellowship