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Polly Ngale

Polly Ngale (c 1936-2022) was born into the Anmatyarr tribe. She was married to Ray Yeramba and lived at Camel Camp on Utopia with her family and sisters, Kathleen and Maisy Ngale and Angeline Pwerle Ngale. She often assisted her sister Kathleen and also the late Emily Kngwarreye Kame with whom she shared the same country. Arlparra is her country from her father’s side and her mother came from Ngwelay, commonly known as Kurrajong Bore.

Like many of the women in Utopia, Polly began her artistic career in batik before venturing into painting with acrylic paints on canvas. In the 1980s the availability of acrylic paint caused a movement toward painting canvas of which Polly was an active participant.

Polly was considered one of the most accomplished painters from the Utopia region and is inspired by the Arnwetky (or conkerberry) - a green tangled, spiny shrub that produces fragrant white flowers. After the summer rains tiny green berries begin to grow and ripen, changing colour over the weeks from light green to pinks and browns to yellow, to shades of red and purple when they finally ripen. The fruits very much resemble a plum and is often referred to in English as a 'bush plum'.

The Arnwetky is a popular variety of bush tucker for the people of Utopia, as well as possessing medicinal properties. Together with her sisters, Polly is a senior custodian of the Anwekety or Bush Plum Dreaming. Her work depicts the Bush Plum or Conkerberry, a local food source from her traditional country. By painting this imagery Polly is passing down important cultural knowledge to younger generations and celebrating the food sources that her country has provided her ancestors for hundreds of years. Polly uses a heavily loaded paint brush to work the many layers of colourful dots onto the canvas. The dots create the effect of the flowering plants, the scattered seeds of the Bush Plum.

Polly's work has been exhibited extensively both in Australia and overseas. Her work has appeared in the Telstra National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Award since 2003. Her honourable mention as a 2004 finalist was followed by representation at the Contemporary Art Fair in Paris at the Grand Palais Champs Elysees. Polly was also represented in the exhibition Emily Kngwarreye and her Legacy at the Hillside Forum Daikanyama Tokyo in 2008.

Please Note: This Artist passed away recently and out of respect for Aboriginal culture, we have removed the photograph of this Artist holding this artwork from our website.