June Bird Ngale was born c1954 at Waite River in the Northern Territory and later moved with her family to the outstation at Mulga Bore on the Utopia Homelands. Her father, Tommy Bird Mpetyane, passed away early in her life, and she came to call Lindsay Bird Mpetyane her father. Her mother, the famed artist Ada Bird Petyarre, who passed away in 2010.
When the Utopia Women’s batik group was established in the late 1970s, June Bird Ngale and her mother Ada Bird were involved from the beginning. Then in 1988 the Utopia artists began painting with CAAMA’s Summer Project and a great burgeoning of artistic output began. June says- “all family living at Mulga Bore, all painting, all the time.”
From her mother’s side, June Bird has received the women’s ceremonial body paint designs, usually associated with the Arnkerrethe, Mountain Devil Lizard Dreaming for Atnungkerre and Alhalkerre Country. Ada Bird shared this story with all her sisters – Kathleen Petyarre, Gloria Petyarre, Myrtle Petyarre, Violet Petyarre, Nancy Petyarre and Jean Petyarre.
One of June’s painting subjects is the Alpar plant, which she describes as being from her Grandfather’s Dreaming. The small plant is celebrated by Aboriginal people for its food value and its medicinal powers. The paintings are reminiscent of her mother’s mysterious paintings of sacred grass created in the late 1980s and early 1990s.
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