Polly Ngale belongs to the oldest living generation of Utopia women. Her artistic career began in the late 1970s when she, like many of the women in Utopia, began working with silk batik before venturing into works on canvas. She is one of the most senior custodians of her country Ahalpere, in the heart of Utopia. She shares this country and the Bush Plum (Arnwetky) Dreaming with her sisters Kathleen Ngale and Angeline Pwerle Ngale.
Like Kathleen Ngale, Polly Ngale creates her paintings by building up layers of colour to create multi-dimensional images. Many of Polly Ngale’s paintings depict the bush plum and its bright yellow seeds, in its various stages of ripening, or the topography of the land in varying shades of red, orange, and yellow to reflect the changing colours of the seasons. Other works depict designs associated with Awelye, Women’s business and ceremonial law. Polly Ngale’s paintings are borne from traditional knowledge and her confident approach to painting is evident in the way she assembles the images of the bush seeds, piling dots over each other to create a dense surface using a rich palette of colour. Polly Ngale’s subject matter is drawn from acute observation and memory. There is intimate knowledge of country, blended with personal history and ancestral journey.
Polly Ngale’s work has been widely exhibited since 1999. Her work has appeared in the Telstra National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Award since 2003. Her honourable mention as a 2004 finalist was followed by representation at the Contemporary Art Fair in Paris at the Grand Palais Champs Elysees. Polly Ngale was also represented in the exhibition Emily Kngwarreye and her Legacy at the Hillside Forum, Daikanyama, Tokyo in 2008.