Collection: Colleen Wallace Nungarrayi

Artist: Colleen Wallace Nungarrayi
Born: c1973
Region: Utopia
Language: Anmatjerre

Colleen is a self-taught artist who comes from a strong family tradition of Eastern Arrernte painters including Kathleen and Gabrielle Wallace. She was born in 1973. She has been painting since 1990 and paints Bush Yam, Women’s Ceremony and Bush Foods. Colleen was raised by her mother at both Santa Teresa and Alice Springs, and Colleen’s father’s country is near Gem Tree, northeast of Alice Springs. Colleen’s Yam Dreaming story links through to the country of Ada Bird Petyarre, a renowned artist from Mulga Bore, Utopia. Colleen’s grandfather, Kenny Tilmouth Panangka, has given her the rights to paint the Yam Dreaming Colleen’s paintings are precise dot designs with a colour field varying from warm earth tones to vibrant complementary colours like yellows and greens. The arc designs of her Bush Yam paintings refer to the digging sites. Recent developments in Colleen’s work incorporate ceremonial body paint designs and more detailed designs associated to the Bush Yam, the vine and its flower, which only grows in ‘green times’ (during rain).

Colleen now lives at both Mulga Bore, Utopia, and Alice Springs with her husband Colin Bird (Ada Bird’s son) and young children. August 1999: notes taken with Ada (now deceased) and Colleen: Ada Bird owns first part of Yam Dreaming – then the line runs through to Colleen’s Country. Kame Seeds [Arlatyeye – (a-lychee)] short fat one and Atnwelarre –[Arn nu larra (long skinny one)], both came from the one seed. When Arlatyeye grows it has big ears (leaf) and Atnwelarre has little ears. Atnwelarre belongs to Ada’s country and Arlatyeye belongs to Colleen’s country. The flowers are the main flowers grown in the green time – after rain. Emu and Kangaroo enjoy eating the flowers. Colleen’s paintings illustrate the Bush Yam vine and flower. Concentric circles are where the yams are. Yellow and red ochre colours are used for Awelye – Women’s Ceremony. Collections Mbantua Gallery Permanent Collection, Alice Springs.

1999 Mbantua Gallery, Alice Springs, N.T. Australia.
2002 Mbantua Gallery USA exhibitions: Art and Soul Gallery, Nashville, TN; ‘The Cove Gallery’ Portland, OR; Urban Wine Works, Portland, OR; Mary’s Woods, Portland, OR
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 Oct – Contemporary Aboriginal Art Event, Umpqua Bank in conjunction with Mbantua Gallery, Portland, Oregon USA
2003 Oct – Art from the Dreamtime, Portland Art Museum, Portland OR USA
2004 May – ‘Awelye’, Mbantua Gallery, Alice Springs
2004 Aug-Sep – Mbantua Gallery USA exhibition: Portland, Nashville, Knoxville, Hartford, Greenwich, New York and Philadelphia
2005 May-June – ‘Small Wonders’ (A collection of 1’x1’ and 1’x1½’ paintings), Mbantua Gallery, Alice Springs, N.T
2004 Evolution of Utopia, Mbantua Gallery Cultural Museum, Alice Springs
2008 June – Dreamings – the Land, Outback Aboriginal Art, Caulfield, Vic