Sadly, Kwementyaye Kemarre passed away earlier this month from pneumonia. She will always be remembered here for her lively sense of humour and quick wit. She was a renowned artist who produced beautiful works of her Dreaming – Bush Plum. Her paintings evoke a shimmering landscape observed from an aerial perspective of the eastern desert. The ever changing colours of the bush plum emerge from tiny dots of colour that are worked layer upon layer to evoke the landscape. They depict the unity of all things with Bush Plum Dreaming – place, flora, and ceremonial.
She also painted Bush Men stories which are interesting hunting and family scenes which she described as ‘olden times – these things my mother told me’ as well as amusing figurative scenes of women dancing. Kwementyaye Kemarre lived at the outstation of Camel Camp, Utopia with the Ngala sisters where they live a very traditional lifestyle.
Her career in painting began in the late 70s when the Utopia Women’s Batik Group was formed. Under the expert guidance of CAAMA and Rodney Gooch the first major communal project – a series of eighty eight works entitled Utopia – A Picture Story was launched onto the Australian and international stage. The Holmes a Court Collection sponsored these art projects from Utopia projects which toured Australia and worldwide.
This was followed by the first foray into acrylic paint on canvas in the summer of 1988-9 as part of CAAMA’s “The First works on Canvas, a Summer Project”. This first body of paintings was exhibited – and enthusiastically received – at the SH Ervin Gallery in Sydney. Kwementyaye Kemarre has continued to use this medium to express her Dreamings and since 1985, her work has been included in a number of exhibitions in Australia, Belgium and Germany.
Her works have been acquired by many major public institutions, including the National Gallery of Australia, the National Gallery of Victoria and the Art Gallery of New South Wales. In 2009 she was a finalist in the Wynne Prize at the Art Gallery of New South Wales and was awarded first prize in both the Mount Buller Art Awards and City of Swan Art Awards. Kwementyaye Kemarre’s success continued to rise through 2010 and 2011 with her selection as finalist in The King’s School Art Prize, The Stanthorpe Art Prize, The Albany Art Prize, The Arthur Guy Memorial Painting Prize, The Fletcher Jones Painting Prize, The Waterhouse Natural History Prize and The Telstra National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Art Awards. In 2011, she was announced winner of the The Fleurieu Peninsula Art of Food and Wine Prize.