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Josie Petrick Kemarre is a full blooded Aboriginal from the Arrente/Anmetjerrra Tribe. Josie comes from Utopia, an Aboriginal owned cattle station, located North East of Alice Springs. She married Robin Petyarre and relocated to his homelands of Utopia in Central Australia. Together they had seven children as well as raising Josie’s nephew. At Santa Teresa she worked as a chef which is where she met her husband. Later at Utopia she worked as a translator for the Central Land Council. It wasn’t until about 1990 that Josie commenced painting.
Since then, she has emerged as a bold and innovative artist, painting her Dreamings and the Landscape of “Her Country”. Some of her stories are inherited from her late grandmother, Emily Kame Kngwarreye, who was a very successful artist late in life, and painted depictions of the desert and its plant life changing with the seasons and life giving rains. She paints the Bush Plum which she inherited from her father’s country.
She titles her artworks “Bush Fruits”, whereby she depicts a topography of the landscape and the seasonal cycle of the various bush fruits such as yam and wild bush berry. After rainfall the desert transforms from a stark and barren place to an abundance of vegetation and color. The women will gather these edible fruits which are a principle food source (bush tucker) for the people living in Central Australia. The women will often celebrate the fruits during ceremonies to ensure continual regrowth of the vegetation. The dots are symbolic of the journey path and song lines for the bush berry after the rain.
Josie paints in two distinctive styles, aerial bush tucker Dreamings with overlapping dot work and Women’s Dreaming with each row of dots painted in a different color and the inclusion of iconic women symbols. Josie’s works are sought after for their unique layering of dots, which creates the illusion of a three dimensional image.
National Gallery of Victoria, Melbourne
The Holmes a Court Collection, Perth
Kerry Stokes Collection
Aboriginal Desert Art Gallery, 1995
Jinta Desert Art Sydney, 1995
Perth, December 1996
Melbourne, October 1996
Embassy of Australia, Washington DC, 1999
Embassy of Australia, New York City, 1999
United Nations, New York City, 1999
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