Emily Kame Kngwarreye was a senior custodian for Alhalkere country. She began painting quite late in her life and had first been introduced to silk batik with a group of women from Utopia in 1977. Emily had been working with and exhibiting batik in Australia and abroad between 1977 and 1987 before taking up acrylics on canvas.
Canvas gave Emily and the other artists a greater freedom of expression to experiment with different styles in which to portray their Dreaming stories. Because batik had been the first medium that the artists at Utopia had really experimented with, and it being rather a ‘onehit’ medium, they developed quite contrasting styles on canvas and Utopian Art now has probably the most diverse range of styles than any other Aboriginal Art region.
Emily’s trademark style of superimposed bold gestural dot work, sometimes overlaying linear patterns derived from Ceremonial body paint designs, would have been technically impossible in batik. In this way, Kngwarreye, as an artist, was able to fully express her Country and Dreamings more accurately, as she had been taught.