Kathleen Ngale, belonging to the Anmatyerre tribe was born circa 1930 in the artistically rich region of Utopia. Raised in a family of artists, notable sisters, Polly, Angeline and Kathleen experimented and explored with different styles of painting, beginning with the traditional decorative body paint designs of her people, an expression of spirituality. In the late 1970s Kathleen was introduced to batik making along with many of the women in the Utopia region. Kathleen harnessed this opportunity and used the batikas another medium to express the spirituality of her people. In 1989 Kathleen made the transition to paint on canvas with a distinguishing style of her own.
Using art, Kathleen conveys her dreamings of the Bush Plum, or Arnwekety. Kathleen captures all the features of the bush plum including the plums ongoing process of ripening throughout the seasons, its topography and the women's journey in search of the bush plum. It is a highly valued food source in the Utopian region.
Kathleen Ngale's early work was reminiscent of the traditional body painting of her people, her style was heavily structured and conventional. As the years progressed, Kathleen broadened her technique, experimenting in the late 1990s with pastel colours and freer movement in her brush stroke. Using a detailed layering scheme of colour and dots, Kathleen firstly layed down on the canvas a structured pattern of dots in rich colours of yellow ochres, purples, lilacs and reds. On top of this Kathleen dotted using a freer brush stroke with a palette of pastel colours of creams, lavender, pinks, greens and light blues. Combining both the traditional structured style and an adventurous free style, Kathleen created and still creates artwork truly unique and expressive of her own journey and deep spiritual connection.
The journey of Kathleen Ngale as an artist has allowed her to grow in confidence and skill ultimately cementing her name as a highly talented artist. Her swirls of pastel colours celebrating the Bush Plum and its journey symbolizes the survival of her peoples culture in the modern world. Undoubtedly this has captured the attention of public and private collectors worldwide. The energetic, free flowing and vividly intense artwork of Kathleen now see's her represented in the collections of the National Gallery of Victoria and the National Gallery of Australia, and has also made her a finalist for the prestigious Telstra Art Award.