Kngwarreye had no formal art education but learned the mark-making and composition of the Anmatyerre tradition in which she was raised. Her first foray into art in western media was through batik in the late 1970s, but it was when she began painting on canvas in 1988 that she found her true medium.
Over the next eight years she produced an outstanding body of work that drew on the history, stories, geography, vegetation and substance of her land to inform her art. What resulted was an outpouring of creative energy that made for an ever-evolving style and works of substantial integrity. Her unique art transcended the cultural specificity of place and spoke to us all.
Her work was quickly placed in leading public corporate and private collections. In 1997 she represented Australia in the Venice Biennale and in 1997 the Queensland Art Gallery staged a major retrospective that travelled throughout Australia. In 2011 a second major survey travelled from the National Museum in Canberra to Osaka and Tokyo. Kngwarreye is without doubt one of the most important Australian painters of the 20th century.