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Lindsay Bird Mpetyane

About Lindsay Bird Mpetyane

Artist: Lindsay Bird
Skin name: Mpetyane (also spelled Mbitjana) 
Language group: Anmatyerre
Country: Ilkawerne
Area: Utopia Region, Central Australia
Born: c. 1942

One of few male Utopia artists (although under Lindsay’s instruction there are more than previous years), Lindsay is an important tribal leader of his country, Ilkawerne, in the Utopia District which is North East of Alice Springs. Married to Mavis Petyarre, they have three daughters, Rosie, Jessie and Karen Bird Ngale.

As an important tribal leader of his country, Lindsay must choose a successor to continue to teach new generations about the lore’s and stories of his culture. Though light hearted and full of good humour he acknowledges the dim possibilities of his people eventually losing their interest in their rich culture and history. Painting for Lindsay is not only a passion, but a sincere desire to continue his legacy of teachings and encourage the growth and interest of the Ilkawerne youngsters.

After the Utopia batik movement of which Lindsay was the only male to participate in, in 1987 Lindsay started painting with a number of women and a handful of men including Louie Pwerle, Gloria Petyarreand Ada Bird. His paintings are both iconic and linear and close to his spirit. He uses the traditional symbols to tell his stories on canvas, including concentric circles which represent the significant ‘place’ of the story (for example the Bush Plum tree) or a sacred part of the men’s story. Lindsay also uses his four traditional colours, consisting of the two ochres (yellow and red), black and white, each with specific meaning. He is also known for under painting the canvas usually in grey. Black, used in most Utopia art backgrounds, is a symbolic colour to Lindsay, where grey is a neutral colour for him to use. This makes his paintings quite unique.