• Artwork:Pencil Yam Seed
  • Artist:Anna Petyarre
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Pencil Yam Seedby Anna Petyarre

This vibrant artwork featured on this gift card refers to the seed of the Pencil yam plant or its Aboriginal name Antwelarr. In the Dreamtime two seeds were born and created two types of yams. One seed was names Atnwelarr for Alhalkere country and the other was names Arlatyeye for Arnumarra country.  The Pencil yam is a staple food source for Aboriginal people and the women from Alhalkere in Central Australia performed ceremonies to ensure its perpetual germination. The seeds were used as a Bush medicine for its healing qaulities as eye soothers.

  • Artist:Anna Petyarre
  • Title:Pencil Yam Seed
  • ID:APGC001
  • Medium:Blank card
  • Size:7 x 5 cm
  • Region:Utopia, Central Australia


I (Sabine Haider, Director Central Art) have been working with Anna Price Petyarre since January 2005. Over the years I have had the pleasure of many visits from Anna. She usually visits the gallery during her stays in Alice Springs. I have observed her artworks morph from more traditional depictions of the Bush Yam to spectacular pieces displaying aerial views of the Alhalkere countryside. Given her many years of experience painting Anna takes the utmost care and pride in her artworks and this is clearly evident when viewing her works. Her paintings endeavour to capture the sensitivity and femininity of her culture on the canvas; as a result of this her artworks are aesthetically pleasing providing the viewer opportunities to see the artwork in different contexts. 

Anna is the daughter of Utopian artist Glory Ngale. Anna was born at Utopia Station, several hours north east of Alice Springs in 1965. Anna comes from a large language group of extremely talented and strong female artists. Unlike so many of the most famous Utopian women artists – Anna was introduced to painting in a more western style at a young age.

In the 1970’s when Utopia was heavily involved in Batik projects Anna was just a young child. Her mother was involved in these projects and Anna was surrounded by all of the artists producing artworks using these new and interesting methods of depicting traditional Dreaming stories. Anna began painting independently in the 1980’s as an adolescent and started painting the Bush Yam with its seeds and root systems. These Dreamings are from her father and grandfathers country around Boundary Bore in the Utopia region.

Anna is probably most well known for her Bush Yam paintings. These artworks often use natural colours of the earth that are found in the Utopia region. The rich red sand, the clay, and ochres all moving together with the contours of the land, these artworks are some of her earlier works.

As a traditional Anmatyerre woman, Anna has the authority to depict Awelye, which are sacred women’s ceremonies that are carried out. Given Anna’s experiences and engagement in her cultural practices she is able to represent these stories in her artworks.

Her most recent works are minimalistic in nature and usually titled Salt Lake or My Country. It is in these artworks that she provides an aerial perspective of the salt lakes and surrounding country. The large circles show dried salt plains which have formed over generations. Following the heavy rains large water holes are created. Gradually the water evaporates leaving only the salt behind.

As a mother, grandmother, aunty and Anmatyerre woman Anna is very busy fulfilling her cultural and familial obligations and thus spends her time in both Utopia and Alice Springs. Like many Utopian artists, during visits to Alice Springs, there is a visit to the Central Art Gallery for a cup of tea, catch up and I am always eager to see the beautiful artwork and Dreaming stories that are shared with me.

Anna’s artworks will appeal to collectors and general customers. They share a detailed and important cultural knowledge of the Utopian region where the Anmatyerre language group primarily reside but also mix traditional stories and depictions with modern mediums that all art appreciators can connect with. If considering purchasing any art from the Utopia region I would encourage you to consider Anna and her artworks.

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