Artist: Emily Kame Kngwarreye

Emily Kame Kngwarreye
Photograph by Greg Weight

Emily Kame Kngwarreye
1910 - 1996
Emily Kngwarreye is one of the most important abstract painters of the 20th century and one of the most significant artists that Australia has ever produced. Her painting was inspired by what she knew: her dreaming, her cultural life as an Aboriginal elder and the natural world that surrounded her. Throughout their history, Aboriginal people have used various forms of dynamic artistic expression, including body and sand paintings, to reflect their unique perception of the world.

Emily shifted her style from dots to gestural brush strokes that echoed the lines painted on women's breasts and shoulders for traditional ceremonial performances. Although Aboriginal art has often been classified as 'primitive art' in comparison to Western Art.  Emily's strikingly modern and beautifully innovative works were created in an environment far away from the influence of the Western Art tradition. Emily's genius was nurtured in the Australian outback and her world provides a wealth of inspiration.


Emily Kame Kngwarreye - Big Yam Dreaming 1995
Synthetic polymer paint on canvas - Approx 291 x 801 cm

Emily Kame Kngwarreye painted her Big Yam Dreaming in 1995 at Utopia in central Australia.

The subject is her major Dreaming story of the yam and its connection to her ancestral country of Alhalkere. Emily painted many works about the yam plant, a primary source of food for the Aboriginal people. Like many Aboriginal artists, Emily often sang the songs about  Yam Dreaming while painting.

Emily Kngwarreye, Kame Awely

Emu Woman 1988–89
Synthetic polymer paint on canvas, 92.0 x 61.0cm

"Emily Kngwarreye's paintings are a response to the land and the spiritual forces which imbue it; the contours and formations of the landscape, climatic changes, the parched earth and flooding rains, the shapes and patterns of seeds and plants."

 From a biography of Emily Kngwarreye at the National Gallery of Australia at the National Gallery of Australia.

 Utopia panels, 1996, 263.2×87.0 cm,
Emily Kame Kngwarreye, Licensed Viscopy, 2007

Awelye, 1995
Synthetic polymer paint on Belgian linen
90 x 150 cm


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