Kathleen Wallace Kemarre was born on 1st July 1948 and an Eastern Arrente woman from Ltyentye Apurte or more commonly referred to as Santa Teresa Community approximately 1 hour from Alice Springs in Central Australia. She is a highly regarded artist, community elder and custodian.
In 1987 Santa Teresa Community received a grant for funding for a short art course, the women of the community enjoyed this creative and cultural place and in 1989 Kathleen established Keringke Arts Inc. a community art centre for the Santa Teresa Community with the assistance of several other artists. Keringke is Kathleen’s Dreaming place. She is the senior artist for the art centre and over the last 20 years has mentored and supported other women artists and young women. She is a highly respected artist in her own right using a fine dotting style consistent with what is now referred to as the Keringke style. Kathleen was worked as a teacher and has been actively involved in her community as a member of the Ltyentye Apurte Community Government Council as well as a member of the Community Government of Desart.
Although Kathleen has no children of her own, she and her husband Douglas have raised some 26 children over the years. Kathleen has a strong sense of her culture and is a natural mentor and teacher. When children within the family were neglected or their parents would be drinking, Kathleen provided a safe place to live. She is commonly referred to as mum.
Raised by her family in the bush at Uyetye prior to moving to the Catholic Mission which was Santa Teresa Kathleen learned the stories of her parents and grandparents country and as the eldest child became the custodian of this knowledge. Throughout her life she has made these important cultural teachings available to others, “All my adult life I’ve been teaching stories, all the old stories and paintings that my mother’s parents taught me. I would like to keep on teaching. That’s important, to pass on my knowledge” (Wallace, 1999).
Kathleen is internationally regarded and her artworks can be found in many major Australian Collections. Her paintings are highly sought after in the primary and second market. The intricate fine details found in her paintings have become renowned as the Keringke Style. Kathleen has participated in multiple exhibitions around Australia and in 2001 she was a finalist in Australia’s most prestigious art prize the National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Art Award. On a number of occasions since 1996 her artwork has been reproduced to create calendars, diaries, postcards, gift cards, and on one occasion a painted Australian rules football.
Keringke Arts is now an internationally renowned arts organisation and without Kathleen as the driving force behind it and the assistance, support, mentoring and teaching that she provides up and coming artists and young women this venture surely would not be what it is today. She is a remarkable not only as an artist but as a woman.