Caroline’s father is Douglas Pananka Petyarre (deceased). Her mother is Barbara Pananka Mbitjana who is an elder painter and cultural elder from Stirling Station. Caroline is an Anmatyerre artist from Ti Tree, 190km North of Alice Springs in Central Australia and grew up on Stirling Station, a cattle station south of Tennant Creek along with her Five sisters Jacinta, Lanita, Louise, Selina and Sharon Numina, who are also well-respected artists from Utopia and three brothers. It was at Stirling Station where she attended primary school and later moved to Alice Springs to attend Yirara College. After she completed her school studies she moved back to Stirling station and worked with the Community Development Program.
Her aunties, very famous artists, Gloria and Kathleen Petyerre and sisters to Caroline’s father Douglas Petyarre (deceased) taught Caroline to paint in 1980 and she sold her art through galleries in Alice Springs and across the Northern Territory up to Darwin where she eventually moved in 1995. Her art has been exhibited throughout Australia and is popular with art dealers and collectors worldwide. Many women from the Petyerre, Mambitji and Numina family name hold custody of the story and knowledge keepers of stories such as Bush Medicine Leaves, Bush Tucker, Seeded, Soakage, Womens’ Ceremony etc – in common with other skin groups across the vast arid landscape and desert areas of central Australia.
Subjects of importance in the theme-series paintings are various bush tucker stories. Plant foods include wild berries, plums, onion, yam, seeds etc. Many animals can be depicted as food source or as totems such as Thorny Devil Lizard and Dingo Tracks. Women’s’ Ceremony, Awelye Body Art Ceremony are mostly painted by senior ladies, but younger women need to know it from a young age. Some themes such as Bush Tucker can be open and universal others can be secret and passed down through cultural ceremonies.
Knowing, carrying and reinforcing these stories gives respect for Country and ancestors and shows responsibility and care of holding such stories to keep the stories and traditional practices alive. The knowledge must be retold repeatedly and handed on. The Numina Sisters have all been taught to paint by their earlier elder painter grandmothers, mother-aunties, and cousin-sisters connected across the Central Desert region. Their mother’s and grandmother’s Country are in the bush and remote Stirling Station. Their father is from Utopia community side.