Gloria was born around 1945 in her country of Atnangkere. She lived in the traditional ways before moving to one of the established settlements, Utopia. Gloria was one of the original artist employed in this program.
The batik program was a major success, with Gloria being one of the leading artists in this format. Her work gained rapid recognition and was seen by Rodney Gooch from CAAMA. He approached the Utopia artists with a plan called 'A Summer Project'. The idea was simple, supply the women and men with canvas and acrylics and have them use their techniques on Batik in the new format. The project was a major success, with Gloria and many other artist moving full time into acrylic on canvas. Gloria paints the traditional women business subjects, which are predominant in Utopia.
Gloria stands out here, with her work she uses close tonal values of different colors, creating a dynamic optical intensity. Her work features powerful structural linear patterns derived from body painting, outlined with single dots. At other times the structural pattern becomes submerged in a sea of dots, the tonal relationships causing the structural pattern to dissolve into the base design of her painting.
It would be easy to think that Gloria Petyarre's works are limited to bush medicine leaf works, but in fact she has quite a number of dreamings in her portfolio: She paints the 'Thorny Mountain Devil Lizard Dreaming', a pattern of swirling coloured lines which imitate the tracks made in the sand by the lizard's tail; the Yam Dreaming, popularly executed by her aunt Emily Kngwarreye, is also one of Gloria's commonly painted stories. She also paints Grass Seed, her main Dreamings that she paints are the Mountain Devil Lizard, Medicine Leaves and well as the traditional body paint designs worn by women. In 1990 she traveled to Ireland, London and India as a representative of the Utopia Women in the 'Utopia - A picture Story' exhibition. Tandanya, Adelaide, The Royal Hibernian Academy, Dublin Ireland and the Meat Market Gallery in Melbourne.
In 1991 she had her first solo exhibition at Utopia Art in Sydney. Since then she has exhibited at the National Gallery in Canberra, Art Gallery of New South Wales, Jinta Desert Art in Sydney and the Powerhouse Museum in Sydney. She is also featured extensively in major collections around the world. The National Gallery of Australia, the Robert Holmes a' Court Collection, Museum of Victoria and the Powerhouse Museum. Gloria Petyarre is a multi-award winning artist and a highly collectible one. Her involvement in the founding projects of the Utopian Art Movement, and her status in the group have given her a place in Australian Art History - as well as a significant body of work. Apart from winning the AGNSW Wynne Prize in 1999, Gloria went on to be a finalist another four times. The most prestigious Indigenous art competition in this country, the 'Telstra National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Art Award' has featured her artworks on many occasions, and her works are widely collected and commonly held in the finest Aboriginal Art Collections and Museums worldwide.
The National Gallery of Australiathe Art Gallery of New South Wales,
Allen, Allen and Hemsley, Victorian Museum,
Museums and Art Gallery of the Northern Territories,
Powerhouse Museum, Westpac Collection, New York,
Gold Coast City Art Gallery, and the Holmes a’ Court Collection