The Utopia Women’s Batik group was formed in 1977 to empower the women of the Utopia Aboriginal Freehold Property to generate income from creative work. Batik, or wax-resist dyeing, is not indigenous to Australia, but among the many crafts the women were exposed to, batik was the most popular technique. Through the 1980s the group, consisting of dozens of artists, produced work for sale through the CAAMA (Central Australian Aboriginal Media Association), and created work for a series of exhibitions that traveled internationally.
Judith Kngwarreye’s Tharrakarre combines bush plants, reptiles and insects in a dynamic composition. Most prominent is the plume-like form of the honey grevillea (tharrkarre), a plant that produces nectar that can be sucked directly from the flower or stirred in water to make a sweet drink. Amid these brilliant orange flowers are darting lizards and snakes, along with centipedes, cicadas and head lice. All these animals fit in to the scheme of both everyday life and the Dreamtime, the time of the Ancestor Beings at the beginning of creation.