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Delvine Petyarre

Born:           1982 
Region:         Central Desert
Country:      Alhalkere
Community:  Utopia
Language:    Anmatyerre
Medium:         Acrylic on canvas/linen.
Subjects:       Yam Seed, Wildflower, Bush Potato, Emu.

Born Patricia Petyarre, Delvine is from the Utopia region in the central Australia and is an emerging artist who uses dots to create patterns that reflect topography of her country, such as dry river beds, tracks and communities. Delvine is the younger sister of well-known Utopia artist Anna Petyarre and shares the same stories and country as her sister and together they are connected to Country at Atneltyeye, or Boundary Bore, which is located on the Utopia Homelands in Central Australia.

Delvine learned her painting skills and stories from her family. Her mother was artist Glory Ngale and Delvine is also related to the famous artists Gloria and Kathleen Petyarre, Kudditji Kngwarreye and Emily Kame Kngwarreye, through her grandparents. Delvine continues the tradition of using fine dot work to represent Country at Utopia, showing the undulating sandhills and formations of dry riverbeds that mark this landscape. The paintings are graphic representations, mostly rendered in black and white, that reveal the important sites and locations scattered across the landscape. The paintings continue the tradition of Anmatyerre women at Utopia who maintain the ceremonies and activities that are focused on maintaining the resources of the land. These include ceremonies for bush foods, for bush medicines and for the general health of the people and their country. 

Delvine Petyarre’s subjects include Bush Yam and Yam Seed Dreamings, which are associated Dreamings from her grandfather’s and father’s country at Atneltyeye, or Boundary Bore. As a traditional Aboriginal woman involved in sacred ceremonies, Delvine also paints Awelye- ceremonial body paint designs – related to women’s ceremony. Amongst these is the story of women painting up for ceremony inside a cave, singing of how to attract a man, and of the bush foods preferred by interested suitors. The women also learn the laws that stipulate that they must only encourage the interests of men of a certain clan relationship to themselves. Devine’s more recent work has focused on images of her ancestral country, the finely delineated structures showing the terrain of the sandhill and bush country, often with markings that reveal waterholes and ceremonial sites. 

Delvine primarily paints Yam Seed Dreaming, her works are colourful and intricate expressions of the songs and stories associated with her plant totem, the Bush Yam, and its seeds. The Bush Yam has been a staple food and water source for the Anmatyerre people for countless years, and the seeds that form and scatter from the plant are ground up to make flour for damper. During ceremony, it is Delvine’s duty to pay homage to the yam seeds and give thanks for their abundance and regenerative qualities. By painting to the tempo of a ceremonial song, Delvine expresses her connection to her plant totem in a permanent medium.

Delvine Petyarre is renowned for her fine painting technique and for the care and pride she takes in her work, producing intricate and sensitive paintings that relate to the traditional culture of her Anmatyerre heritage. A versatile and creative artist Delvine has changed her painting style several times over the last decade. Her work is becoming more collectible as she develops her craft and cements her reputation as one of Utopia’s rising talents. Although less well known than her sister, Delvine is an accomplished painter whose fine skills will bring her work more to the forefront of Utopia art.

Artworks