Marie is excited by the opportunity to share her traditional stories through her art, as well as being able to give a traditional artistic representation to the stories of others.
Marie grew up at Santa Teresa (Ltyentye Apurte) community, 80 kilometres south-east of Alice Springs with her eight younger brothers and sisters. Her mother is Therese Ryder, a highly respected illustrative and landscape artist.
Marie is married to Kevin Bird Mpetyane (grandson of Ada Bird Petyarre) and lives happily with their three children between Kevin’s country in the Utopia Region, north-east of Alice Springs, and Alice Springs itself. Marie also has another two children from her first marriage. She is now a proud grandmother.
Marie first put paint to canvas when she was in her early 20’s. As a child, she watched her mother painting, observing her techniques and from this developed her own style. Her paintings are a celebration of the bush foods from Central Australia. They are highly representational, using rich colours to depict her country. Her work has been represented in many group exhibitions both in Australia and overseas. Her work is also held in many private collections around the world.
Marie reflects on her own story:
“I grew up watching my mother paint. I would sit for hours and just watch her paint landscapes. She was amazing. She could see her country in her mind and even if she wasn’t at that spot she could paint it. It was like going on tour with my mother in her home. She birthed me physically and she did it in painting as well.
But I am not a landscape artist. I had to find my own style, which I have done for a number of years now. My paintings tell of bush food, of women being strong and providing for their families, of plants and animals to feed our families. Places and times of strength for women. Now I am seeing my daughters develop as artists as well, as they develop their styles. Styles that show women dancing and celebrating, women in ceremony, women caring for family and culture.
I want to be honest with you. I am a good artist. I take pride in my work and my stories, and people appreciate it. But selling art is hard. It’s a competitive world and I have often struggled to provide basics like power and food. Some days are still like that now.
A few years ago, I was asked if I could paint someone else’s story and I thought “Why not? I can try!” So I did. The customer was happy and I was happy. The artwork, a mix of traditional and contemporary styles, is now hanging in his home in Boston, USA. I’m excited about the opportunity to paint other people’s stories – your story, for you to retell.”