Myrtle Pennington | Artist Profile

Details of Myrtle Pennington


Myrtle was born c.1939 in the vicinity of a rock hole called Kanpa in central Spinifex. The rock hole itself is a point along a highly sensitive senior Men’s tjukurpa which Myrtle would not have seen or drawn water from.

Myrtle’s journey out of Spinifex to Cundeelee Mission in the late 1950’s was particularly tragic for Myrtle and her family (a son and husband perished on the trip). Myrtle, with another son and daughter, were eventually located by Australian servicemen from an army base at Neale’s Junction, who held them until Cundeelee Mission staff arrived to take the family to Cundeelee.

The story of Myrtle’s flight from the British atomic testing range at Maralinga was to become key evidence tendered to Royal Commission into the British Nuclear Tests in Australia in 1984 and sadly Myrtle had to re-live the tragic events. Myrtle and her surviving son and daughter were awarded individual compensation from the Australian Government.

Myrtle did not paint on the Women’s Native Title painting and gradually came into the Project through Women’s collaborative art. She was mostly an occasional painter until the past decade when almost overnight she developed a most striking, minimal style with bold symbols that leap out against a vividly plain background. Myrtle continues to paint regularly, seemingly unaffected by others styles evolving around her.


Acrylic on Canvas, screenprint

Group Exhibitions

2017 'Spinifex' Short Street Gallery, Broome, Western Australia
2016 'Pila Nguratja - In Spinifex Country' Vivien Anderson Gallery, Melbourne
2016 DesertMob Araluen Gallery, Alice Springs, N.T. (collaboration with Estelle Hogan, Ngalpingka Simms and Kanta Donnegan)
2016 Rawa Nyinanyi- Unbroken. Outstation Gallery, Darwin. N.T.
2016 Exposition Spinifex Arts Project, Aboriginal Signature Estrangin Fine Art, Belgium
2016 LORE The visual language of cultural Identity, Raft Artspace, Tasmania
2016 Tjungutja – Art of the Spinifex Collaborative, Redot Fine Art Gallery, Singapore
2016 Purungu und Narrupa Sammlung, in association with P. & A. Klein and ArtKelch, Kunstwerk, Germany
2015 Spinifex Arts Project 2015, Aboriginal and Pacific Arts, Sydney, N.S.W.
2015 Tarnanthi - Festival of Contemporary Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Art, Art Gallery of South Australia, Adelaide. SA.
2015 Wo das Stachelkopfgras wachst, ArtKelch, Freibery, Germany
2015 Kulunypa- selected small works from the Spinifex Arts Project, Outstation Gallery, Darwin. N.T.
2015 Indigenous Australia enduring civilisation, The British Museum, London
2014 Tjuntjuntjara Nguratja- Tjuntjuntjara is home Harvey Art Projects, Sun Valley, Idaho, USA
2014 Spinifex Artists, Japingka Gallery, Fremantle W.A
2014 Pila- Spinifex Land Outstation Gallery, Parap, Darwin. NT.
2014 DesertMob Araluen Gallery, Alice Springs, N.T. (collaboration with Estelle Hogan)
2014 Australian Contemporary Indigenous Art 111 Chiaroscuro Contemporary Art in association with Vivien Anderson Gallery, Santa Fe, USA
2014 alleries. Stokes Hill Wharf, Darwin, N.T. Womens Collaborative
2014 Tjuntjuntjara, Short St Gallery, Broome WA
2014 'Spinifex Tjukurpa' ReDot Gallery, Singapore.
2014 'Spinifex Arts Project 2014', Vivien Anderson Gallery, Melbourne, VIC.
2013 'Kuwaritja - New Works of the Spinifex People' Outstation Gallery, Darwin, Northern Territory.
2013 'Spinifex Arts Project' ArtKelch, Freiburg, Munich, Hamburg, Bodensee, Lake Constance, Germany.
2012 'Tupun Nguranguru – People of the Sandhill Country' 45 Downstairs Gallery, Vivien Anderson, Melbourne.
2012 'Spinifex - People of the Sun and Shadow' John Curtin Gallery, Curtin University, Perth, Western Australia
2010 Australian Contemporary Indigenous Art Now, Chiaroscuro Gallery, Santa Fe USA in association with Vivien Anderson Gallery, Melbourne VIC (Women's Collaborative)
2010 'Desert Country', Art Gallery of South Australia, Adelaide, SA. And national tour.
2009 Walka Putitja, Short St Gallery, Broome, WA
2008 Spinifex Country, Short St Gallery, Broome, WA
2007 Recent Paintings from Spinifex Country, Short St Gallery, Broome, WA
2005 'Law and Land' Aboriginal Art Museum, Utrecht, The Netherlands.
2002 'Putitja Nguru - Art of the Spinifex People' Japingka Gallery, Fremantle, W.A.
2001 Broken Hill City Regional Art Gallery, Broken Hill, N.S.W.
2001 Flinders Arts Museum, Adelaide, S.A.
2001 'All About Art' Alcaston Gallery, Melbourne, Vic.
2000 Pila Nguru - Art and Song of the Spinifex People' Western Australian Museum, Perth, W.A and national tour.


Artbank, Australian Government Collection, Australia
The Art Gallery of South Australia, Adelaide, S.A (Women's Collaborative)
National Gallery of Victoria, Melbourne, Australia.
The Corrigan Collection, Australia. (Women's Collaborative)
The British Museum, London, England.(Women's Collaborative)
W & V McGeoch Collection, Melbourne, VIC


2015 Finalist (Women's Collaborative) 32nd Telstra National Aboriginal & Torres Strait Islander Art Award, Museums and Art Galleries, Darwin, N.T
2009 Finalist (as part of the Women’s Collaborative), Western Australian Indigenous Art Awards 2009, Art Gallery of Western Australia, Perth WA


2015 Sculthorpe,G. Carty,J. Morphy,H. Nugent,M. Coats, I. Bolton, L. Jones,J. Indigenous Australia enduring civilisation (exh cat) The British Museum, London, UK.
2015 Sculthorpe, Gaye. 2015, Bringing great Australian Indigenous works of art into the light at the British Museum,The Financial Review, April 29th
2015 Edmons, Penny. 2015 Indigenous Australia exhibition at the British Museum is insider activism at its best, The Conversation, April 22nd
2015 Jones, Jonathon. 2015, Indigenous Australia: enduring civilisation a fabulous beast, The Guardian, April 21st
2015 Nicholls, Christine. 2015, Indigenous Australia: enduring civilisation is a challenge to review, The Conversation, 27th April
2015 Neill, Rosemary. 2015, British Museum indigenous exhibition earns royal approval, The Australian, May 2nd
2015 Dulaney, Michael. Spinifex artwork takes pride of place at British Museum, The Kalgoorlie Miner, May 8th
2015 Reuters video, Prince Charles says Indigenous history as important as ANZAC day, Reuters, May 1st
2013 Jukurpa Diary 2014. IAD Press, Alice Springs, N.T. (Women's Collaborative)
2012 Hacket, J. Forrest, S. Malcolm, C. Cane, S. Carty, J. Lane, C. Cruthers, J. Chadwick, R. Allerton, L.'Spinifex: People of the Sun and Shadow' (exh. cat) John Curtin Gallery, Perth. W. A.
2012 Jorgensen, D.J. 2012, 'No Place Without Other Places: Spinifex Arts Project at fifteen years', ARTLINK: Australian contemporary art quarterly, 32, 2, pp. 86-87.
2012 Rothwell, Nicolas. "Paintings of lifetimes in the desert" The Australian, August 6th 2012.
2010 Cumpston, N. 2010, Desert Country (exh. cat.), Art Gallery of South Australia, Adelaide SA
2009 Art Gallery of Western Australia 2009, Western Australian Indigenous Art Awards, Art Gallery of Western Australia, Perth WA
2008 McCulloch Childs, E. New Beginnings: Classic Paintings from the Corrigan Collection of 21st Century Aboriginal Art, McCulloch and McCulloch, Melbourne.
2002 Cane,S. 'Pila Nguru: The Spinifex People', Fremantle Arts Centre Press, Fremantle, WA.

Artworks of Myrtle Pennington

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