June Smith Pengarte


June Smith Pengarte was born on 3rd December 1960 and is from Santa Teresa Community (Ltyentye Apurte) in Central Australia. Her family are from the greater area of Alice Springs and surrounding communities. June spent a great deal of her younger days living in Alice Springs and attended school there.

June was one of the first women to begin to paint for Keringke Arts Centre at Santa Teresa in the late 1980’s. She was amongst the women who initially advocated for a place for women to be able to work on their art. Keringke Art Centre was built in 1989. June has played a significant role in mentoring younger artists, supporting the other women and has also held the Chair position for a number of terms. She is strongly involved in her community and is a respected and strong mother and grandmother to her family. She is seen as the pillar of strength and stability within her family, the art centre and the community.

Her artworks are a source of strength for her and she uses patterns, colour and shape to create vibrant works of art that share her sense of self, culture, community and country. Her paintings are consistent with what has been termed the “Keringke style”, paintings that have intricate details, bright colours and fine line and dot work. The symbols and shapes used in the paintings are common features of ancient rock art and traditional iconography found throughout Eastern Arrente country.

I (Sabine Haider, Director, Central Art) have had the privilege of working with June since 2008. Her paintings are always bright and colourful and her black and white series contrast beautifully. She is one of Central Art’s more popular artists. Her paintings titled “Yalke” depict the wild bush onion on her grandmother’s country. The Bush Onion is June’s totems and it was bestrode upon her as a small baby by her grandmother who was responsible for the Dreaming. June shares that her grandmother would often sit on the ground and draw stories of her culture and traditions in the sand and she remembers this fondly. The paintings show the viewer the country that Eastern Arrente people and in particular women walk through when looking for Yalke and other bush tucker. When cooking the Yalke they are put with hot ashes from the fire. The skin is then peeled and you are able to eat the white flesh underneath.

June also has paintings simply titled “Untitled”, these paintings demonstrate the significant elements which are connected spiritually to the Eastern Arrente people and their culture in particular for June. It relates specifically to Ltyentye Apurte country.

In 2007 June held her first solo exhibition with Gecko Gallery in Broome. She participates in multiple group exhibitions annually and has done so since approximately 1990. In 2001 she was a finalist in the 18th annual National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Art Award; this is Australia’s premier art award and is a credit to her paintings, style and commitment to her artwork. She was also a selected entrant in both 1998 and 1999. June’s paintings are also held in several art collections in Australia and the USA. June Smith Pengarte is certainly an artist worth considering, her paintings are affordable, her talent in clear and been recognised. She had been commissioned to create several artworks and silk hanging as well as in 2005 commissioned to design the new carpet for the Alice Springs Airport with Ulster Carpets. Her artworks have also been reproduced in ties, scarfs, journals and silk hanging. Central Art is looking forward to continuing our relationship with June.