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A Place Called Utopia: Aboriginal Art from Australia

11th to 26th February 2023

View available works here

A fascinating exhibition of some of the most prolific Australian Aboriginal artists is set to be unveiled at the Saul Hay Gallery in Manchester from 11th to 26th February 2023. The incredible collection will feature pieces from world famous indigenous Australian artists, Emily Kngwarreye and Minnie Pwerle. Kngwarreye’s painting Earth’s Creation sold for over $2 million in 2017, setting a record for a painting by an indigenous Australian artist. 

The collection celebrates art from the remote Aboriginal outstation of Utopia, 270 kilometres northeast of Alice Springs in Australia’s semi-arid, red centre. It is home to the Anmatyerre and Alyawarre people, and in 1981, was the first outstation in Australia to achieve Land Rights – meaning the granting of land to Indigenous Australians. They first received acrylic paints and canvas in 1988 and it was predominantly women who began painting their Dreamings (stories about how life came to be) and awelye (women’s ceremonial body painting designs) that became incredibly popular and synonymous with Australian artwork around the world. Kngwarreye, whose pieces, Yam Flower Dreaming and Yam Dreaming, will be displayed, began painting in acrylics in her 80s and she became the nation’s most celebrated Aboriginal artist. Yet the people of Utopia continue to live traditional lives of hunting and gathering, handing down their oral culture and ancient, experiential knowledge to the next generation.

The collection is owned by Saul Hay Gallery painter, sculptor and photographer, Dr Victoria King who volunteered at Utopia between 1998 and 2004. 

She says: “The remote Aboriginal outstation of Utopia is a place of sublime, harsh beauty and infinite complexities. Over the five years I volunteered there, I transcribed the women’s Dreaming stories and watched as they created remarkable hybrid works of art that reflected their ancient culture. Their profound experiential wisdom and ecological knowledge astounded me and living with them was a privilege that forever changed how I see the world.”


The show also coincides with the reopening of the Manchester Museum, particularly resonating with their new Living Cultures collection.

“This exhibition represents a significant and important collection of Australian Aboriginal paintings collected by Dr Victoria King, an esteemed painter herself, who developed a close and lasting bond with many of the artists represented. We are pleased to be able to bring to Manchester works of such quality from some of the most renowned Aboriginal artists and to help to tell their story.” Ian Hay, Director of The Saul Hay Gallery

The exhibition is free and runs from 11th to 26th February 2023. All works are for sale.

Barbara Weir - Grasses.jpeg
Emily Kngwarreye awelye.jpeg

The iNews and Independent newspaper included A Place Called Utopia in its top things to do in 2023.


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