Born in Utopia in Central Australia in 1954, Dinny Kunoth Kemarre has been a respected sculptor within his Anmatyerre community for many years and of recent years an emerging desert painter. In both mediums, he reveals a natural aptitude and tendency for bright polychrome depictions relating to modern Indigenous life in remote Australia.
There is a sculptural tradition in Central Australia that has deep roots across many generations. Dinny tells stories of his father sculpting, and his sons are actively involved in the art form as well with their work having been exhibited nationally. Customarily, sculptures were restricted to hunting and ceremonial objects, and decorative forms of ceremonial men and animals. More recently this practice has lifted to include a growing diversity of multicultural carvings where Dinny’s work often reflects rodeo stars, biblical objects and dioramas, as well as sporting celebrities such as Australian Football League players. In August 2011, Dinny was awarded a Highly Commended in the coveted Telstra national Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander art award for a chess set made of large painted carvings. The chess pieces included various birds, ceremonial men and women, elders and pastors.
Football is prevalent in Dinny’s paintings and carvings. Bush football is a sport that receives a passionate involvement from the Utopia community throughout the course of its season and sees the teams named after and don insignia of some of the AFL’s most prominent teams. Teams include the Apungalingum Eagles, for whom Dinny barracks for, the Mulga Bore Magpies, Arlparra Dockers and Arnkawenyerr Swans.
In 2006, Dinny and his wife Josie Kunoth Petyarre, a well exhibited and awarded artist herself, embarked on a major project where they carved sixteen sculptures of AFL football players, one from each club in the league. These included well known players such as Nathan Buckley, Chris Judd, Gary Ablett, and Adam Goodes. These sculptures came to the attention of curator Phil Manning at AFL World, who invited Dinny and Josie to exhibit at AFL World. The resultant exhibition, Centre Bounce, explored the central role of football to remote Indigenous communities. In 2009, Dinny entered five sculptures of his favourite AFL players Shaun McManus, Michael O’Loughlin, Buddy Franklin, Leon Davis and David Wirrpanda, titled Dinny’s Dream Team.