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Josie Kunoth

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About Josie Kunoth

Artist: Josie Kunoth Petyarre
Skin name: Petyarre (also spelled Pitjara)
Language group: Anmatyerre
Country: Alhalkere
Region: Utopia, Central Australia
Born: 1959

Born in 1959 in Utopia, Josie's mother is Polly Ngale, a well known and respected artist from Utopia. Josie is married to Dinny Kunoth Kemarre and together they have six children, including Doreen and Malanda Kunoth.

In 1989 Josie was involved in the Utopia: A Picture Story which introduced a small group of Utopian women and one man, Lindsay Bird, to batik silk. The group designed silk batiks telling traditional stories and sharing scenes from their lives and Dreamtime stories. This particular project was such a success that the entire collection of 88 pieces was acquired by the Holmes a Court Collection and toured around Australia and overseas. Josie’s contribution to the project was a story titled “The Hungry People”, the scene shows people armed with weapons fighting each other for food. 

The following year another art project was brought to Utopia called A Summer Project. The project introduced canvas and acrylics; a quick drying medium which was very welcome. This saw the beginning of an explosion of artistic talent, colour, and creativity.

Josie’s paintings were among Utopia's finest, portraying fine dot designs depicting the Pencil Yam Dreaming and have been exhibited extensively. Josie also paints Alhalkere Country, Sugar Bag, and Awelye (Women's Ceremony and Body Paint).

Like her husband and sons, Josie makes wood carvings of remote desert life such as bush animals and ceremonial figures. In 2006 Dinny and Josie created painted sculptures of Australian Football League players from each team and were were invited to have these exhibited in 2007 at AFL World in Melbourne. They attended the exhibition and attended that year’s AFL Grand Final. The experience led Josie to produce a realist painting of her Melbourne experience which was later acquired by the National Museum of Australia.

In 2008, Josie and Dinny were joint finalists for their sculptures in the X-strata Coal Emerging Indigenous Art Award at the Gallery of Modern Art in Brisbane. They had brightly painted sculptures of everyday objects such as table and chairs, and a police wagon. In the same year, Josie was a selected entrant in the 25th National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Art Award exhibition, and the Basil Sellers Art Prize at Ian Potter Museum in Melbourne. In 2009, Josie had several of her paintings featured in the Indigenous Law Bulletin.

Today, Josie lives at Utopia with her family. When not creating colourful works of art, bible studies and singing gospel music at her local church are a top priority for Josie. Her artworks are represented in collections such as the National Museum of Australia, La Culture en Couleur in Paris, Berndt Museum of Anthropology, the Holmes a Court Collection and the Kerry Stokes Collection. 

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