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Dolly Mills

"Seeded Bush Medicine" by Dolly Mills Petyarre


Commission Painting

Size: 95 x 109cm

Medium: Acrylic on Canvas

This artwork is available to commission in your ideal size and color. Please email us at for more information. 

Dolly was born in 1948 at Boundary Bore Outstation at Utopia Community, in Central Australia. The community can be found North East of Alice Springs. Dolly Mills is an Anmatyerre speaker, which is one of two language groups that can be found in the area in and around Utopia. Dolly has three siblings; Jeannie Pitjara, Evelyn Pultara, and Greeny Purvis. All four siblings are well-known and talented artists. Sadly, Greeny passed away in 2010. Central Art is proud to hold pieces of all of them due to our strong relationship with the family and the wider Utopian region.

In the 1970’s Dolly was part of a group of Utopian women who participated in the Women’s Batik Group. This group included famous artists such as Emily Kame Kngwarreye. In 1988 the Central Australian Aboriginal Media Association (CAAMA) launched a community project titled “Utopia – A Picture Story” and was a collection of 88 silk batiks made by local women. This collection was later acquired by The Holmes a Court Collection. The project brought extensive recognition to the women of Utopia and Dolly’s works are featured in the book based on the project.

Dolly’s works feature her Dreamings which include Anaty, Ankerr and Awelye, however, bush tobacco and other bush tucker foods can be found in her paintings. The most prominent subject of her work is the Bush Yam and Emu and the strong association between the two. Her paintings are based in Alhalkere country which is the region her Dreamings originate from. The Yam is an important food source for Aboriginal people and is collected by the women of Utopia. The plant has bright green leaves with yellow flowers, with its root system spreading up to 12 meters from the stalk and branches which spread in a similar fashion. It is usually located close to water holes or underground water systems and in woodland areas. The Emu is featured as it roams the countryside in search of food and the women will often follow its tracks.

Dolly uses delicate patterning and subtle coloring in her works, using feminine colors such as purple, pink, and orange in pastel tones. The overall visual effect creates a soft appearance to her works. Her fine dotting almost blends in with its surroundings so that there does not appear to be any dotting at all, rather smearing.

For an artist who has participated and worked alongside the greats of her region, it is a wonder that her works are as affordable as they are. Her daughter, Jeannie Mills Pwerle is an up-and-coming artist herself, receiving increasing accolades for her works. Central Art also has the pleasure of holding her paintings. The Yam is a significant Dreaming for many women of Utopia and it is interesting to see the differences between mother and daughter in their artistic depictions of the same Dreaming.

Selected Exhibitions


• First National Aboriginal Art Award Exhibition, Museum and Art Gallery of the Northern Territory, Darwin


• Second National Aboriginal Art Award Exhibition, Museum and Art Gallery of the Northern Territory, Darwin


• Utopia Women’s Paintings, the First Works on Canvas, A Summer Project, 1988-89

• SH Ervin Gallery, Sydney


• ‘Utopia – A Picture Story,’ an exhibition of 88 works on silk from the Holmes a Court

• Collection by Utopia artists which toured Eire and Scotland


• Central Australian Aboriginal Art and Craft Exhibition, Araluen Centre, Alice Springs


• “Hello Dolly”, Sofitel Melbourne, World Vision Australia – Walkabout Art


• “Senior Women of Utopia”, Gallery G, Brisbane


• “Patterns of Power, Art from the Eastern Desert”, Simmer on the Bay, Sydney

• Eastern Desert Dreaming, Artists from Utopia, GalleryG, Brisbane