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Awelye for Arnkerrthe by Ada Bird Petyarre (SOLD)

Size: 60cm x 60cm
Medium: Synthetic polymer paint on Belgian linen


Shop current artworks by Ada Bird Petyarre

At 60cm x 60cm, this little painting has all the hallmarks of a classic Ada - Ada's elongated breast contours with bold linear prints mirroring that on an arc-linear chest, and a clearly defined naval area. Imperfect yet deliberate markings.

Traditional ochre colours continue to connect this piece with authenticity to the culture and ceremony that was once performed by Ada.

Imbuing the piece with sophistication, the white brightens favourably and allows this piece to befit any space.

- exhibition excerpt

The arc-linear work and breast illustration in Ada’s painting represents awelye (women’s ceremony and body paint designs) for the Arnkerrthe Dreamtime story. This story belongs to the people from Atnangkere and Alhalkere country in the Utopia region, northeast of Alice Springs.

The women smear their bodies with animal fat then trace these patterns onto their breasts, arms and thighs. Powders ground from red and yellow ochre (clays), charcoal and ash are used as body paint and applied with a flat stick with soft padding. This stick is called a ‘typale’. The women sing as each woman takes her turn to be ‘painted-up’.

Their songs relate to the ancestral travels of the Mountain Devil Lizard as it makes the long journey north to Waramugu country, carrying the ochre for body paint in the small sac on the back of its neck.

The Mountain Devil Lizardhas the ability to camouflage itself by changing colours. The traditional colours used for ceremony are ochre red, yellow and white.

The navel area is depicted in this piece by the two bands of short parallel lines reaching across the centre of the painting.


Name: Ada Bird
Skin name: Petyarre (also spelled Pitjara)
Language group: Anmatyerre
Country: Atnangkere
Region: Utopia, Central Australia
Born: c. 1930
Dec: 2009
Read Ada Bird Petyarre's full bio »


Lost Legends exhibition  I  3 Feb - 31 Mar 2017  


This painting comes unstretched and rolled in a tube.

Please allow 2-5 days for dispatch on this piece followed by express shipping (1-3 week days for domestic shipment or 4-10 week days for international shipment).

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  • This painting comes unstretched and rolled in a tube.
  • Size of painting: 60cm x 60cm
  • Background colour: Black
  • Linen border: Approx 2cm strip of black border designed to be wrapped around a 2cm deep stretcher frame. Plus approx 6cm of natural coloured linen overhang.
  • This painting comes with a Certificate of Authenticityand artist profile.