Angeline Pwerle Ngala

Skin: Pwerle Ngala (also spelt Ngal, Kngal, Kngale)
Language Group: Anmattyerr
Region: Camel Camp, Utopia, Northern Territory
Vendor: Eastern Desert Art
Dreaming: Bush Plum (Arnwekety), Arlparra Country

Born in 1947, Angeline Pwerle Ngala has come into international prominence with her interpretation of her Dreaming – the Bush Plum – Arnwekety on her grandfather’s country, Arlparra.

The subtle changes in the depth and intensity of her dot-work produce a multi-dimensional textured surface. Angeline also does figurative work in strong, striking colours.

Married to the painter and sculptor Louis Pwerle (deceased) Angeline is the sister of painters Kathleen Ngala and Polly Ngala all of whom paint the Dreaming – Bush Plum. Angeline was part of the batik project in 1988 and her work is featured in the Robert Holmes á Court Collection which has toured extensively within Australia and overseas. She began to use the medium of acrylic paint on canvas in the summer of 1988-9 as part of the CAAMA project with the Utopia women’s paintings: ‘The First works on Canvas, A Summer Project’. She has continued to paint with acrylics on canvas.

Her work has been collected by many significant public and private galleries and institutions. She was a finalist in the 23rd Telstra National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Awards, 2006.

‘In 1986 she was introduced to batik; however, in recent years she has primarily focused on sculpture and painting. The representation of the Bush plum (Arnwekety), Arrker (night owl), bush foods, and flowers remain the central concerns of her work. Along with the other women artists of Utopia, Pwerle was first given canvas and acrylic paint in the late 1980s. Her canvases characteristically feature an intense concentration of dots which produce the effect of movement or shadows, across the surface. Her work is distinct from that of other artists in the community in the clarity of her colour schemes. Placed on dark backgrounds, the dots take on a pure, ephemeral quality.

There is a strong heritage of amongst the men and women of Utopia, although until the 1980s women made only non-traditional sculptural work. It was in this context that Pwerle’s bold, whimsical animals and figures were first produced. The artist gives her creatures and little people bright-eyed, startled faces and adorns their bodies in green, grey, and blue, as well as traditional ochres.’ WN

Part extract Kleinert & Neale, The Oxford Companion to Aboriginal Art and Culture, 2000, OUP, Melbourne.

  • Aboriginal Art Museum, The Netherlands.
  • The Holmes a Court Collection, Perth
  • The National Museum of Art, Osaka, Japan
  • The National Gallery of Australia, Canberra
  • Artbank, Sydney
  • Commonwealth Law Courts, Melbourne.
  • LaTrobe University Collection, Melbourne
  • Gallery of Modern Arts, Brisbane
  • 1989 - Utopia Women's Paintings, the First Works on Canvas, A Summer Project, 1988-89, S. H. Ervin Gallery, Sydney
  • 1993 - Utopia Women, MCA
  • 1994 - The Oval Board Collection, Hawaii
  • 1994 - Central Australian Aboriginal Art and Craft Exhibition, Araluen Centre, Alice Springs.
  • 1996 - Painted People: Sculpture from Utopia, Utopia Art Sydney, Sydney
  • 1997 - 14th National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Art Award, Museum and Art Gallery of the Northern Territory, Darwin
  • 1998 - Sixth Australian Contemporary Art Fair, Melbourne
  • 1999 - Blue Chip 2 The Collector's Exhibtition, Niagara Galleries, Melbourne
  • 2000 - Not the Done Thing!, Niagara Galleries, Melbourne
  • 2003, 2005 - Niagara Galleries, Melbourne
  • 2004 - EXPLAINED, A closer look at Aboriginal Art, Aboriginal Art Museum, Utrecht, The Netherlands.
  • 2006 - Senior Women of Utopia, GalleryG, Brisbane
  • 2006 - Lorraine Diggins, London
  • 2007 - Patterns of Power, Art from the Eastern Desert, Simmer on the Bay, Sydney
  • 2007 - Eastern Desert Dreaming - Artists from Utopia, GalleryG, Brisbane
  • 2008 - Moscow World Fine Art Fair, Moscow, Russia
  • 2008 - Emily Kngwarreye and Her Legacy, Tokyo, Japan
  • 2009 - Finalist Wynne Prize, Art Gallery of New South Wales, Sydney
  • 2009 - Telstra National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Art Award, Museum and Art Gallery of the Northern Territory, Darwin
  • 2010 - The Utopia Story, Australasian Arts Projects, Singapore
  • 2010 – Aboriginal Artists in London June 11 - 13, London, UK
  • 2011 – Aboriginal Art from Utopia, Without Pier Art Gallery, Melbourne
  • 2011 – Australasian Arts Projects, Singapore
  • 2012 - Aboriginal Artists in London, London, UK
  • 2012 - Belongings, Australasian Arts Projects, Singapore
  • 2013 - Prairie Hotel, Parachilna, South Australia
  • 2014 – Without Pier Art Gallery, Melbourne