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Janet Goldner Kngwarreye

"Womens Ceremony" by Janet Golder Kngwarreye


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Acrylic on Canvas

Size: 95 x 55cm     


 Janet Golder Kngwarreye is the daughter of Margaret Golder and Sammy Pitjara. Janet is an Anmatyerre artist from Mulga Bore on the Utopia Homelands. She lives at Boundary Bore with her husband, Ronnie Bird, and their 3 children. Janet has been part of the Batik movement at Utopia in the Northern Territory and typically paints stories associated with her country in this region.

 The artistic line in her family runs deep. Her grandmothers are esteemed Utopia artists Polly Ngale and Angelina Pwerle, her uncle is Greeny Purvis and her sister Belinda Golder Kngwarreye is also an accomplished artist.

Janet began painting in 1987, learning her skills from family members and taking on the subject matter that was familiar to the women artists in her family group. These include the Awelye Women’s Ceremonial Body Paint and the Bush Yam Leaf designs and stories as well as Bush Medicine and Mountain Devil Dreaming. In recent times Janet has developed further stories based around the women’s cultural practice in the Country, combining imagery of bush tucker along with features of the Utopia landscape.

Janet Golder Kngwarreye is highly skilled in her use of color with her paintings often fusing black and white design with color elements, or a full spectrum of color, showcasing elements of her country and the bush medicine that grows there. Janet has exhibited in galleries around Australia and internationally.

A talented artist in her own right, Janet has produced some wonderful works including ceremonial body paint, bush tucker, and magnificent Bush Medicine Plant Dreaming. She is married to Ronnie Bird Jungala whose father is the very well-known and respected artist and Elder Lindsay Bird Mpetyane. His mother is International Artist Ada Bird Petyarre, one of the famous seven Petyarre sisters.

Both Janet and her husband’s families are well known and looked up to, and they have a very long history of creating from their Dreamings, some beautiful and much sought-after works of art which are held in many great Art Galleries, Museums, and private collections Worldwide.


Meaning of the Painting (Bush Yam Dreaming)

Janet has painted a Women’s Dreaming story, combining her country with the bush tucker and waterholes that are imperative when the women go out bush for the ceremony which can take up to a week. The women conduct important ceremonies at these sites, including that of the Desert Yam (or Bush Plum) story from her family’s country.

The yam grows underground with its viny shrub growing above ground up to one meter high. It is normally found on Spinifex sand plains and produces large flowers after a summer rain. The yam is a tuber, or swollen root, of the shrub and tastes much like the common sweet potato. It can be eaten raw or cooked and is still a staple food for the desert aborigines where it can be harvested at any time of the year. It is also renowned for its medicinal properties. This medicine is used to heal cuts, wounds, bites, and rashes and as an insect repellent.

During ceremonies, the women pay homage to the spirit of this special plant in the hope that it will regenerate.

History - Selected Group Exhibitions

  • 2019 Landscape Colours, Perth WA
  • 2018 Painting on Country - Utopia Artists, Perth WA
  • 2008 July Redrock Gallery, Beijing, 2nd Gallery Opening, Group Exhibition, Beijing, China
  • 2008 November Redrock Gallery, Beijing: A Women’s Exhibition Beijing, P.R China