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Utopia: The Genius of Emily Kame Kngwarreye

WARNING: This exhibition and website contain some images of nudity and people in distressing circumstances. Visitors should also be aware that the exhibition and website include names and images of deceased people that may cause sadness or distress to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples.


Untitled 1993 by Emily Kame Kngwarreye

Utopia: The Genius of Emily Kame Kngwarreye made its debut in Canberra from 22 August to 12 October 2008. After its successful tour in Japan, the National Museum of Australia was pleased to present this selection of powerful works to an Australian audience.

The Museum deals innovatively with the telling of Australian history through the stories of extraordinary Australians. This exhibition not only told the story of Emily Kame Kngwarreye, one of Australia's greatest contemporary artists, but it also gives some insight into her life as a senior Anmatyerre woman and a lifelong custodian of the desert country that inspired her work.

We have an extensive collection of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander art, culture and history. Yet this exhibition went beyond our own collection to showcase 120 works drawn from some 60 private, public and corporate collections around the world.

This was only the second time such a comprehensive collection of the best of Emily's work had been seen together. It astounded, delighted and informed a Japanese public otherwise unfamiliar with Australian contemporary culture and history.

The National Museum of Australia opened in 2001 and is delighted that this major project came about so early in its short history, thus establishing a benchmark for future international collaborations.

Left: Untitled 1993, synthetic polymer paint on canvas, 232.4 x 80.4 cm
Collection of Phillip and Jenny Lawrence. © Emily Kame Kngwarreye, Licensed Viscopy 08.


The exhibition is sponsored by Yomiuri Shimbun, Woodside Energy Ltd and produced with the assistance of Asialink, the Australia-Japan Foundation and the Australian Government through the Australia International Cultural Council, an initiative of the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade.

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