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Ada Bird Petyarre – Angerema (Bush Bean Dreaming)

$450.00 inc. GST

The artist has depicted the seed of the Angerema – bush bean – in the centre of the painting. The seed is surrounded by a border of Awely (body painting designs). The bush bean is one of Ada’s most significant Dreaming (ancestral creation story) trails, and it is her responsibility to paint, sing and dance the ceremony for the bush bean. That will nurture the plant and assist it to develop and grow strong. By doing this Ada is helping her country remain strong and, at the same time, grow stronger for the future of the family and tribal group. The bush bean is eaten either raw or roasted in its shell in the ashes of the fire.

This print is exclusive to Songlines. Also available framed (in store) or on request.

In stock


Language Group           Anmatyerre
Art Centre/Region Utopia/Central Desert
Title & Edition Number Angerema (Bush Bean Dreaming)
Year 1999
Size of Paper 380 x 560 mm
Catalogue Number ABBB
Provenance Karen Coote

Aboriginal Fertility prints

This is one of a range of 14 limited edition screen-prints on paper exclusively available through Songlines. The prints have not been exhibited or offered for sale since 1999, the year they were created by eight Indigenous women artists. Images of the prints were used as slides by Fay Nelson, then Director Aboriginal Arts Board, Australia Council, in her keynote address at the landmark Sydney IVF Fertility Conference held at Darling Harbour Conference Centre.

The prints and Dr Nelson’s essay ‘Aboriginal Fertility’ are documented in the conference proceedings published as Towards Reproductive Certainty – Fertility and Genetics beyond 1999 edited by Robert Jansen and David Mortimer with the assistance of Karen Coote, published by The Parthenon Publishing Group.


Ada Bird Petyarre was a significant contributor to one of the most important art movements to emerge from the desert – “the Utopia Women”. As one of the senior women at Utopia and a traditional Anmatyerre elder (her country was Atnangkere), Ada took her cultural obligations very seriously which is reflected in her artworks that depict her Ancestral Creation Stories (Dreamings) and the associated women’s ceremonies.

Born on the Old Utopia Station at Atangkere, Ada comes from a large family, one of seven sisters; Kathleen, Gloria, Myrtle, Violet, Nancy and Jean, all of whom were also notable artists. Ada also had six children of her own, two daughters June and Hilda and four sons, Paddy, Colin, Stephen and Ronnie.

Living at Mulga Bore (Akaye Soakage), Ada was involved with the Utopia Women’s Batik group in the late 70’s, where her work was exhibited and now held in major collections in Australia and internationally, as well as being featured on the cover of the publication “Utopia – A Picture Story” (1990), a book based on an exhibition of 88 works on silk by the Utopia artists which toured Eire and Scotland. The German filmmaker, Wim Wenders acquired one of her batiks and gave the artist a role in one of his films, that was partially shot in Central Australia.

Ada subsequently began painting with acrylics in 1988 during the CAAMA (Central Australian Aboriginal Media Association) Summer Project. In late ’89 the National Gallery of Australia in Canberra acquired a major canvas, and her works were soon to be added to many public and private collections.

In 1990 Ada had her first solo exhibition at Utopia Art in Sydney. Her work also appeared in the publication The Art of Utopia, M. Boulter, (Craftsman House, Sydney, 1991).

Ada’s talent was obvious and she had a unique style, leaving a legacy of works that range from delicate, to others with strong bright colours and bold linear patterns. She also painted in the more traditional and subdued colours, her favoured works being based on the women’s ceremonial body paint designs (awelye) for the Mountain Devil Lizard (Arnkerrthe).

Ada suffered a stroke in 2004 that ended her career in painting, and was cared for in Alice Springs until her passing in June 2009.

With thanks to Gallery Gondwana.


Mbantua Gallery Permanent Collection, Alice Springs

Art Gallery of New South Wales, Sydney

National Gallery of Australia, Canberra

The Holmes á Court Collection, Perth

The Kelton Foundation, Santa Monica USA

University of Queensland, Anthropology Museum, St Lucia

Solo Exhibitions

1990 Utopia Art, Sydney
1999 Mbantua Gallery, Alice Springs
1999 Ginninderra Galleries, Canberra
2000 Mbantua Gallery, Alice Springs
2002 Mbantua Gallery, Alice Springs



2000 Artists of Utopia, Tandanya, S.A
2000 Utopia Women Red Desert Gallery, Eumundi, Qld/Sunshine Coast University/Noosa Blue Resort, Noosa Qld
2001 Young Presidents Organization University, Westin Hotel, Pitt Street, Sydney
2001 Walkabout Indigenous Art Gallery, Leichardt, Sydney
2001 Painting Country, Tandanya, S.A
2001 De Beer’s Collection, Brookdale Galleries, QLD
2001 Seven Sisters Petyarre, Brisbane City Gallery, Brisbane
2002 Redback Art August exhibition
2002 Mbantua Gallery USA exhibitions: New City Merchants, Knoxville, TN; Art and Soul Gallery, Nashville, TN; ‘The Cove Gallery’ Portland, OR; Urban Wine Works, Portland, OR; Mary’s Woods, Portland, OR
2003 Seven Sisters, Chrissie Cotter Gallery, Sydney
2003 Mbantua Gallery USA exhibitions: New City Merchants, Knoxville, TN; Art and Soul Gallery, Nashville, TN; ‘The Cove Gallery’ Portland, OR; Mary’s Woods, Portland, OR
2003 Mbantua Gallery – Contemporary Aboriginal Art Event, Umpqua Bank, Portland, OR, USA
2004 Mbantua Gallery USA exhibition; Portland, Nashville, Knoxville, Hartford and Greenwich


Further References

Brody, A.  

1989 Utopia Women’s Paintings The First Works on Canvas, A Summer Project 1988-89,, Heytesbury Holdings, Perth.

Brody, A. 1990, Utopia: a Picture Story, 88 Silk Batiks from the Robert Holmes a Court Collection
Morphy Howard Aboriginal Art, Phaidon 1998