Ninette Dutton, née Trott, was the eldest of three sisters born to an upper middle-class Australian family. She attended private schools and went to Adelaide University in 1940 to study social science. She served as a driver with the Women's Australian Auxiliary Air Force during World War II. In 1944, she married Geoffrey Dutton, with whom she had three children. They lived at Anlaby, the Dutton family property near Kapunda and later at Piers Hill, near Angaston. After the war, they went to Oxford, England, where Ninette studied at the Ruskin School of Art and worked at the Botany Library, while her husband studied at Magdalen College. They traveled extensively throughout Europe, Africa, Asia, and the Middle East before returning to Australia. There she set up a studio and fired painted designs on tiles. In 1962, when the family spent some time in Manhattan, Kansas, home of Kansas State University, Ninette discovered enamelling on copper. This became her main artistic activity for the next 40 years.
She pioneered the technique of enamelling on fire-brick, creating large wall murals. Her work was exhibited throughout Australia and acquired by private collections as well as the South Australian Art Gallery. She also wrote numerous nonfiction books, beginning with works on enamelling and cooking, then about the wildflowers she loved. She also published stories for children and memoirs. She wrote the "Passionate Gardener" column for the Adelaide Advertiser, and was a regular radio broadcaster on gardening.