Kathleen PETYARRE - Mountain Devil Lizard
Kathleen PETYARRE - Mountain Devil Lizard
Kathleen PETYARRE - Mountain Devil Lizard
Kathleen PETYARRE - Mountain Devil Lizard

Kathleen PETYARRE - Mountain Devil Lizard

2005, 80 x 79cm ADG:6133

ADG: 6133


Mountain Devil Lizard, 2005

80 x 79cm


Mountain Devil Lizard (Thorny Devil Lizard)

This work depicts the Mountain Devil Lizard Dreamtime story about an old woman travelling across the Atnangker country outlining the landscape and identifying sacred sites. The Mountain Devil Lizard dreaming story is Kathleen Petyarre’s totem, with the responsibility to look after the lizard.

The Mountain Devil Lizard (Moloch horridus) is a small, colourful lizard that is covered in conical spines in camouflage shades of cream, brown and tan. It grows up to 20cm long and lives in the Utopia region of the Northern Territory in Australia.

The Anmatyerre and Alyawerre people of Utopia have a special dreamtime story about the lizard, believing that the lizard carries coloured ochre (natural earth pigments) in the sack around its neck and is responsible for the distribution of ochre (colour) throughout the desert landscape.

The Mountain Devil Lizard is also known as the Thorny Devil Lizard.


Kathleen Petyarre

Born 1940-

Group Alyawarre

Language Eastern Anmatyerre

Country Atnangkere (Mosquito Bore)

Region Utopia, Northern Territory

Dreamings Mountain Devil Lizard (Thorny Devil Lizard), Awelye (Women’s Ceremony), Country

Kathleen Petyarre was born circa 1940, at the remote location of Atnangkere, an important water soakage for Aboriginal people on the western boundary of Utopia Station, 250 kilometres north-east of Alice Springs in the Northern Territory of Australia. Kathleen belongs to the Alyawarre / Eastern Anmatyerre clan and speaks Eastern Anmatyerre, with English as her second language. Kathleen, with her daughter Margaret and her sisters, settled at Mosquito Bore, on Utopia Station near her birthplace.

Kathleen was one of the leading Anmatyerre women involved in the successful land claim for the freehold title, which led to the formal hand-over of the Utopia Pastoral Lease back to its traditional owners in 1979.Kathleen's mother and her sisters managed to hold onto their land near Utopia Station, establishing a camp at Atneltyeye (Boundary Bore).

Kathleen's inherited Dreaming stories from her parents include the Mountain Devil Lizard, or Thorny Devil Lizard (Arnkerrthe), Women Hunting Emu, and Dingo (Atnangkerre). Her paintings refer directly to these Dreamings and the associated country around Utopia in the eastern central desert of Australia. A common theme in Kathleen's paintings refer to Arnkerrthe, the Mountain or Thorny Devil Lizard, Moloch horridus, a small lizard which has conical spines on its back and lives in the desert, crossing vast terrain and changing colour according to its environment, like a true chameleon. The enormity of his journeys can be felt in the landscape of Kathleen's works. This important clan country serves not only as a creation site, but a sacred place in which to reconnect with the Ancestral Dreaming through ceremony, and in particular, initiation rites. Kathleen continues to demonstrate her detailed, accurate knowledge and respect of country through her remarkable paintings.


Paintings Collection of H. M. Queen Elizabeth 11

Holmes a Court Collection

Musée des Arts d’Afrique et d’Océanie, Quai Branly, Paris, France

Musée des Confluences, Lyon, France

Kunsthaus – Sammlung Essl, Klosterneuburg, Austria

Aboriginal Art Museum, Utrecht, The Netherlands

The Vroom Collection, The Netherlands

Seattle Art Museum, Seattle, Washington, USA

Kelton Foundation, Los Angeles, California, USA

Harvard University (Peabody-Essex Anthropology and Ethnology Museum), Salem, Massachusetts, USA

Levi-Kaplan Collection, Seattle, Washington, USA

Kluge-Rhue Collection, University of West Virginia VA, USA

Museum Puri Lukisan, Ubud, Bali, Indonesia

National Gallery of Australia , Canberra ACT, Australia

Art Gallery of New South Wales, Sydney NSW, Australia

Art Gallery of South Australia, Adelaide SA, Australia

The Kerry Stokes Collection, Perth WA, Australia

Museums and Art Galleries of the Northern Territory, Darwin NT, Australia

Flinders University Art Museum, Adelaide SA, Australia

A.T.S.I.C. Collection, Adelaide SA, Australia

National Gallery of Victoria, Melbourne VIC, Australia

University of South Australia Art Museum, Adelaide SA, Australia

Edith Cowan University, Perth WA, Australia

Riddoch Art Gallery, Mount Gambier SA, Australia


1997 The John McCaughey Memorial Art Prize, National Gallery of Victoria, Melbourne VIC, Australia


1996 Winner 13th Telstra National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Art Awards, Darwin NT

1997 Overall Winner of the Visy Board Art Prize, Barossa Vintage Festival Art Show, Nurioopta SA

1998 Finalist, Seppelts Contemporary Art Award, Museum of Contemporary Art, Sydney NSW

1998 Winner People's Choice Awards, Seppelts Contemporary Art Award, Museum of Contemporary Art Sydney, NSW.

Solo Exhibitions

1996 Kathleen Petyarre - Storm in Aknangkerre Country, Alcaston House Gallery, Melbourne VIC

1998 Arnkerrthe - My Dreaming, Alcaston Gallery, Melbourne VIC

1999 Recent Paintings By Kathleen Petyarre, Mary Place, Sydney NSW

2000 Landscape: Truth and Beauty, recent Paintings by Kathleen Petyarre, Alcaston Gallery Melbourne VIC

2000 Kathleen Petyarre, Retrospective Exhibition, Museum of Contemporary Art Sydney NSW

2001 Genius of Place, The Work of Kathleen Petyarre, Museum of Contemporary Art, Sydney NSW.

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