Utopia community originated as pastoral station. The borders of the Utopia pastoral lease were first drawn across the ancestral country of the Anmatyerr and Alyawarr peoples in 1926.
The first lease holders of Utopia Station, Trott and Sonny Kunoth, set up camp after the First World War. However, the first pastoral lease was not taken up formally until 1926.
A place of plenty
The brothers gave the name Utopia to this part of Alyawarr and Anmatyerr country following a stroke of good fortune. After a long and arduous journey, the men found themselves low on supplies. They came across a rabbit so tame they caught it by hand, reminding them of an earthly Utopia. For the traditional landowners, however, this country is always bountiful.
Utopia is now crossed by the Sandover Highway and is one of several pastoral properties through which this unsealed road and former stock route passes. After a successful land claim in 1979, freehold title to the Utopia pastoral lease was granted to the Anmatyerr and Alyawarr people in 1983.
The current population is around 880 people living in 17 outstations, dotted across an area of 2000 square kilometres. The community is arranged around extended family groups, whose outstations are generally situated near their country.
Establishing the Utopian batik tradition
In 1977 Anmatyerr and Alyawarr women were introduced to the batik medium by Jenny Green and Julia Murray. At that time Central Australian Aboriginal Media Association (CAAMA) became involved in the support of the art program at Utopia.
In 1988-89 approximately 80 of the batik artists began painting as part of 'The first works on canvas' series. At that time some artists began to produce painted wooden sculptures.