Ada Bird Petyarre

Ada birdBorn c: 1930- 28th June 2009

Area: Utopia

Country: Arnangkere

Ada Bird was born on the old Utopia station at Atnangkere.

Ada Bird is an Anmatyerre speaker, and one of the senior women at Utopia.

She paints the Angertla-Mountain Devil Lizard, Engcarma-Bean, Unyara-Emu, Annlara-Pencil Yam, Kadjera-Grass Seeds, and Elaitchurunga which is Small Brown Grass.

Dreamings which she shares with Gloria Petyarre, Emily Kngwarreye, Myrtle Petyarre, Nancy Kemarre, Kathleen Petyarre, Violet Petyarre and Jeanna Petyarre. She lives at Mulga Bore or Akaye Soakage and has been involved with the Utopia Women’s Batik group since its inception in the late ’70ws. Her batiks are held in major collections in Australia and overseas.

The German filmmaker Wim Wenders acquired on of her batiks and gave the artist a role in one of his films partially shot around Alice Springs in Central Australia. She began painting in 1988 with CAAMA’s Summer Project. In late ’89 the National Gallery of Australia in Canberra acquired a major canvas, and addition of her works to, many public and private collections followed. In 1990 Ada had her first solo exhibition at Utopia Art in Sydney and in 1995 at the Aboriginal Desert Art Gallery Melbourne. She incorporates both traditional designs and representational elements in her paintings and uses linear patterns, which are increasingly distinctive of her work.

Solo Exhibitions

1990 Utopia Art Sydney, Australian

1999 Ginninderra Galleries, Canberra, Australia

1999 Mbantua Gallery, Alice Springs, Australia

2000 Mbantua Gallery, Alice Springs, Australia

Group Exhibitions

1988 Contemporary Aboriginal Art, Utopia Art Sydney, Australia

1988 Time Before Time, Austral Gallery, St. Louis, USA

1989 Utopia Art Sydney, Australian

1989 Utopia Batik, Araluen Centre for the Arts, Alice Springs, Australian

1989 Utopia Women’s Paintings. The First Works on Canvas. A Summer Project, 1988-89, SH Ervin Gallery, Sydney, Australian

1989 Utopia Women, Coventry Gallery, Sydney, Australian

1989-1991 Utopia – A Picture Story, Tandanya National Aboriginal Cultural Institute, Adelaide, Australian; The Royal Hibernian Academy, Dublin, Cork, Limerick, Ireland; Meat Market Gallery, Melbourne, Australian

1990 A Portfolio of Australian Women Artists, Macquarie Gallery, Sydney, Australian

1990 Contemporary Aboriginal Art from the Robert Holmes of Court Collection, Carpenter Center for the Visual Arts, Harvard University; James Ford Bell Museum, University of Minnesota; Lakewook Center for the Arts, Lake Oswego, USA.

1990                 Utopia Art Sydney, Australian
1990                 Utopia Artists, Flinders Lane Gallery, Melbourne, Australian
1991                 8th National Aboriginal Art Award Exhibition, Museum & Art Gallery of the Northern Territory, Darwin, Australian
1991                 Aboriginal Women’s Exhibition, Art Gallery of New South Wales, Sydney, Australian
1991                 Flash Pictures, National Gallery of Australia, Canberra, Australian
1992                 Modern Art – Ancient Icon, the Aboriginal Gallery of Dreaming, Australian
1992-1993         New Tracks Old Land: An Exhibition of Contemporary Prints from Aboriginal Australia, Wanderausstellung in USA und Australia
1993                  10th National Aboriginal Art Award Exhibition, Museum & Art Gallery of the Northern Territory, Darwin, Australian
1993                 Araluen Centre for the Arts, Alice Springs, Australian
1993                 Tjukurrpa. Desert Dreaming – A Survey of Central Desert Art 1971-1993, Art Gallery of Western Australia, Perth, Australian
1993-1994         Aratjara. Central Desert Australia, Hayward Gallery, London, Louisiana Museum of Modern Art, Denmark
1994                 Power of the Land. Masterpieces of Aboriginal Art, National Gallery of Victoria, Melbourne, Australian
1994                 Yiribana, Art Gallery of New South Wales, Sydney, Australian
1998-2000         Tjinytjilpa. The Dotted Design, Mornington Peninsula Regional Gallery; Swan Hill Regional Art Gallery; Mildura Art Gallery; Old Treasury Building, Melbourne; The Exhibitions Gallery, Wangarrata; Horsham Art Gallery, Australian
1999                 Indigenous Art of the Dreamtime, New York, USA
2000                 Transitions. 17 Years of the National Aboriginal & Torres Strait Islander Art Award, Museum and Art Gallery of the Northern Territory, Darwin, Australian
2000                  Utopia Women, Red Desert Gallery, Sunshine Coast University, Noosa, Australia
2001                      Brook dale Galleries, Australia
2001                 Seven Sisters Petyarre, Brisbane City Gallery, Brisbane, Australia
2001                 Walkabout Indigenous Art Gallery, Sydney, Australia
2001                 Young Presidents Organization University, Westin Hotel, Sydney, Australia

2003                 Glen Eira City Gallery, Melbourne.
2004                 Binocular: looking closely at Country, Ivan Dougherty Gallery, Sydney; Reves de

                        Femmes, Galerie DAD, Mantes-la-Jolie, France.

2005                 Decouvrir, Rever, Investir, Australian Embassy, Paris, France.

2008                 More than stories, Utopia Art Sydney, Sydney.


Anthropology Museum, St. Lucia, USA
Art Gallery of New South Wales, Sydney
Kelton Foundation, Los Angeles, USA
National Gallery of Australia, Canberra
Robert Holmes of Court- Collections Perth
University of Queensland, Brisbane