Born:             c. 1936, Utopia NT.
Languages:   Anmatyerre
Country:        Alparra, Utopia 
Polly Ngale was one of the most senior custodians of her country Alparra, in the heart of Utopia. Member of the oldest living generation of Utopia women, her artistic career began in the late 1970s when she, like many of the women in Utopia, learned the craft of batik making.

Polly was considered one of the most accomplished painters from the Utopia region, inspired by the Arnwetky (conkerberry) - a green tangled, spiny shrub that produces fragrant white flowers and fruit. The fruits very much resemble a plum Polly often referred to in English as a 'bush plum'. The Arnwetky is a popular variety of bush tucker for the people of Utopia, as well as possessing medicinal properties.

To ensure the continued fruiting of the Arnwetky, the Anmatyerre people pay homage to the spirit of the bush plum by recreating it in their ceremonies through song and dance, and in recent years, through painting. 

Polly shared this country and the Bush Plum (Arnwetky) Dreaming with her sisters Kathleen Ngale and Angeline Pwerle Ngale. Like Kathleen, Polly created her paintings by building up layer upon layer of colour to create multi-dimensional images. The two often collaborated and painted together. Polly's subject matter is drawn from an intimate knowledge of country, personal history and ancestral journey. Seamless in her portrayal of these elements her paintings are sensory mind maps that reveal the artists place, and her sense of self all within one framework. Pollys work has been increasingly exhibited since 1999 and in recent years, Polly underwent a renaissance in her work - by all accounts producing some of the finest paintings of her career. 
Polly passed away in August of 2022. 

Polly's work has appeared in the Telstra National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Award since 2003. Her honourable mention as a 2004 finalist was followed by representation at the Contemporary Art Fair in Paris at the Grand Palais Champs Elysees. Polly was also represented in the exhibition Emily Kngwarreye and her Legacy at the Hillside Forum Daikanyama Tokyo in 2008.

Polly's work has been exhibited extensively both in Australia and overseas.


Art Gallery of South Australia, Adelaide
The Holmes a Court Collection, Perth
The World Bank, Washington
Art Gallery of New South Wales, Sydney
The Holt Collection

Awards and Recognition: 2003 20th NATSIAA, Darwin - Finalist   Selected Solo Exhibitions:
2019 Poly Ngale - Arnwetky, Kate Owen Gallery, Sydney

Selected Group Exhibitions
2020 Polly Ngale & Kathleen Ngale: Bush Plum Dreaming, Japingka Gallery, Perth
2019 Summer Show & Art Parade, Salt, Queenscliff, VIC
2019 International Women's Day, Kate Owen Gallery, Sydney
2019 Defining Tradition | the colourists, Kate Owen Gallery, Sydney
2018 Painting on Country - Utopia Artists, Japingka Gallery, Perth
2018 Beyond the Veil, Olsen Gruin, New York
2018 Indigenous Australia: Masterworks from the National Gallery of Australia, me Collectors Room, Berlin
2018 Art Paris Art Fair, Arts d'Australie, Stephane Jacob, Grand-Palais, Paris
2015 Sixteen Artists 16 x 2, Japingka Gallery, Perth
2014 Dot Code: Desert Artists, Japingka Gallery, Perth
2014 Parcours des Mondes, Arts d'Australie, Stephane Jacob, Paris
2012 Lineart, Arts d'Australie, Stephane Jacob, Gent, Belgium
2011 Thinking outside the square, Kate Owen Gallery, Sydney
2010 Stories from the Centre, Kate Owen Gallery, Sydney
2010 Parcours des Mondes, Arts d'Australie, Stephane Jacob, Paris
2010 Parcours Nomad's en Australie, Arts d'Australie, Stephane Jacob, Paris
2010 Spring, Kate Owen Gallery, Sydney
2009 JGM Gallery, London
2009 Size Matters, Kate Owen Gallery, Sydney, NSW
2009 Utopia - Bush Plum & Other delicacies, Honey Ant Gallery, Noosa
2008 Emily Kame Kngwarreye and her Legacy: Visions of Utopia that Penetrate the Soul of the Eastern Desert, Art Front Gallery Hillside Forum, Tokyo
2008 Utopia Revisited, NG Art Gallery, Sydney
2008 Dreamings the Land, Outback Aboriginal Art, Caulfield, VIC
2009 Utopia - Bush Plum & Other delicacies, Honey Ant Gallery, Noosa
2007 Arts d'Australie, Stephane Jacob, Paris
2007 Journeys and Dreams, Gecko Gallery, Broome
2007 Visions of Utopia, Coo-ee Aboriginal Art, Sydney
2007 Journeys and Dreams, Gecko Gallery, Broome
2005 Neville Keating Gallery, London
2003 Telstra Art Award, Museum and Art Gallery of the Northern Territory, Darwin
2002 Two Sisters: Kathleen and Polly Ngale, Lauraine Diggins Fine Art, Melbourne.
2000 Arts d'Australie Stephane Jacob / Espace Mezzo - Avenue des Champs-Elysees, Paris
1992 Modern Art Ancient Icon, The World Bank, Washington
1990 Utopia A Picture Story, batik from the Holmes A Court Collection by Utopia artists which toured Ireland and Scotland
1990 Art of the Eastern Desert, Eastern Desert Art, Brisbane
1989 Utopia Women's Paintings, A Summer Project, S.H. Ervin Gallery Sydney
1989 Aboriginal Art from Utopia, Gallery Gabrielle Pizzi, Melbourne