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Polly Ngale was born circa 1940 in the artistically rich area of Utopia, 240 kilometres north-east of Alice Springs in the Northern Territory. Like many of the women in Utopia, Polly began her artistic career in the 1970s within the Batik movement when Indigenous imagery and Western craft practices were combined for the first time. This movement was an initiation into the art world for many female artists in the area.
In the 1980s the availability of acrylic paint caused a movement toward painting canvas of which Polly was an active participant. Polly is one of the most senior custodians of her country Aparra, in the heart of Utopia, and a custodian of the Anwekety (Bush Plum), Polly depicts this 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 with for hundreds of years.
Polly uses a heavily loaded paint brush to work the many layers of colourful dots onto the linen. Blended whimsically, the dots create the effect of the flowering plants, the scattered seeds of the Bush Plum and the landscape after the heavy rain season. The composition of colour and shape variations points to the geography and intimate knowledge of locations. The underlying deeper tones are overlaid with subtly blended highlights, creating an intricacy that allows variations in the depth to occur.
Polly’s work has featured in a number of important collections in both Australia and overseas.