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Artist BiographiesBiography of Evelyn Pultara


Evelyn Pultara is an outstanding artist from the Utopia region of the Northern Territory. She was born some time around 1940 at Woodgreen Station, the cattle property adjoining Utopia Station. She is an Anmatyerre woman and the mother of six children.

Like her late aunt Emily Kame Kngwarreye and her full brother Greeny Purvis, Evelyn Pultara was born with bush yam (pencil yam) as her 'totem'. The bush yam (atnwelarr) has been an abundant source of food and water for the Anmatyerre people for countless years. The pencil yam is a slender twining plant with yellow pea flowers and edible tubers. As her totem, it is Evelyn's responsibility to pay homage to it through song and dance in ceremony - and now in art.

The medium of acrylic on canvas is an extension of this duty and is another means for her to strengthen her personal connection with this item of the environment. Evelyn is a shy, quiet woman who rarely gives away more than is necessary about the context of her paintings.

Evelyn's husband Clem (also an artist) is more gregarious and quite happy to publicly sing the songs that accompany her paintings. "Always the same song, same story" he tells us, "but she found her own style, she makes paintings her own way". One can imagine that as long as Evelyn is painting to the rhythm of a yam song and while she is in 'yam dreaming' frame of mind, then whatever flows forth onto the canvas is naturally to be called 'Bush Yam'.

Evelyn Pultara

In the words of Australian author Peter Goldsworthy who sat with Evelyn and watched her paint one afternoon in late 2004:

"The Dreamings tell of the adventures of the mythic totemic ancestors- kangaroos, birds, lizards, men and women, even yams, who made the land and its people and food. The Dreamings can also provide a song-map of the location of water holes, ochre pits, food sources, and sacred sites."

Evelyn Pultara now lives in the tiny township of Wilora in the Northern Territory, 200 kilometres north of Alice Springs.

Evelyn began painting in 1997. From starting as a painter of more traditional themes such as bush tucker and awelye (women’s ceremonial body paint designs), she has progressed rapidly. She now exclusively paints her plant totem, the bush yam.

In 2005 Evelyn was the winner of the general painting division of the Telstra
National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Art Award.

Solo Exhibitions

Feb 2005 'The Art of Evelyn Pultara' Gig Gallery, Glebe, Sydney
May 2004 'Evelyn Pultara' curated by Armida Allevi, abOrigena, Milan
June 2003 World Vision Walkabout Gallery, Leichardt, Sydney

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