To stare into the surface of a Betty Chimney painting, is to witness an adoration of country, direct from the artist’s heart. Delicately choreographed and altogether mesmeric, every moment captured in a Betty Chimney painting is an autobiographical ode to a life rescued by country.
Born in Port Augusta SA in 1957, Chimney spent her childhood years in Coober Pedy before moving to Indulkana.
The desert country of Indulkana Community is located the Aṉangu Pitjantjatjara Yankunytjatjara (APY) Lands in the remote north-west of South Australia; an area of the continent now globally famed for its artistic output.
I was lucky because Alec Baker’s father came and picked up my mother and me. So we moved to Indulkana, when I was about 8 years old. Alec Baker is about 10 years older than me, so he was off working mostly. But my mother and I loved living in Indulkana. We lived in a big wiltja by the Indulkana creek.
Alec Baker (who is also presenting an exhibition of paintings at Michael Reid Sydney) would go on to have a profound influence on Betty Chimney. Today, the two artists co-direct the community’s now prolific First Nations owned and governed art centre and are considered key contributors to the global advocacy of contemporary First Nations painting.
Ngayuku Ngura (My Country) is Betty Chimney’s largest assemblage of new paintings since her 2020 exhibition of the same name. The exhibition showcases seven new works of art, and one collaborative painting made in tandem with her daughter, Raylene Walatinna. Nganampa Ngura (Our Country), 2022 is a generational blend of visual language and noticeably diverges from the larger collection. Through their subtle, but effective use of blue, Chimney and Walatina orchestrate an electrifying blend of heart, mind, family and country that makes this, and every Betty Chimney painting so special.
Ngayuku Ngura (My Country) will show at Michael Reid Sydney until February 25th 2023.