Skin Name: Pwerle
Region: Utopia, central Australia
Dreaming: Awelye - Atnwengerrp & Bush Melon Seed
Minnie Pwerle was born around 1910 in the Utopia region. As one of 6 six children she enjoyed a colourful childhood, later becoming the mother of 7 children of her own.
Minnie's career as an artist began through Aboriginal ceremony and ritual. Her craft instigated by her appointment as a body painter during Women's ceremonies. Body paint designs are worn to represent Dreamings and various symbols specific to particular rituals. Usually the upper body is covered in animal fat and intricate designs painted on the chest, back and arms with paints made from ochre's.
It was not until 1999 at approximately 80 + years of age, that Minnie began painting on canvas. Her first series of works painted at the Utopia Communities workshops were linear paintings, expressing a bold, free-flowing, enigmatic style that quickly drew the interest of critics and art lovers alike. The artist’s primary Dreamings include "Awelye - Atnwengerrp" (Women's Dreaming), "Bush Melon", and "Bush Melon Seed".
The Bush Melon itself is a plant specific to the Atnwengerrp region, and Minnie's Dreamings tell the story of this treasured delicacy that sustained her people for long periods of time. Linear designs of circles, curves and breast designs depict the "Bush Melon", while "Bush Melon Seed" is represented by large and small patches of colour strewn across the canvas. Lines of various width and colour represent the body paint designs worn by the women during ceremony or "Women's Dreaming".
As the mother of Barbara Weir, also a well know Aboriginal artist exhibited at the Butler Goode Gallery, it is clear that Minnie has successfully passed on her talent. Her contributions to the Aboriginal art movement have been invaluable, as a respected elder of her community her work offers insight in to the spiritual world of the Australian Aborigines, whilst providing visual art lovers with a striking, and highly unique collection of works to enjoy.
On her death in 2006, Minnie Pwerle left a substantial body of work which conveyed her deep connection to the land and the knowledge of the foods that it provides.
2000 AMP building, Sydney
2001 Mbantua Gallery, Alice Springs
2001-02 Chapman Gallery, Canberra
2001San Anselmo, Marin Country, California
2001-02 Japingka Gallery, Perth
2001 Tandanya, Adelaide
2001 Dreamtime Gallery, Santa Fe, USA
2001 Gallery 2021, Auckland, New Zealand
2002 Gallery New York City, USA
2003, M. Pwerle: Original & Authentic Aboriginal Art, Melbourne
2003, Alice Springs
2003, M. Pwerle & Mitjili Napurrula Japingka Gallery, Fremantle
2003, Art and Soul Gallery, Nashville, Tennessee, USA
2003, Art from the Dreamtime, Portland Art Museum
2004, Diva's of the Desert, Gallery Gondwana, Alice Springs
2005, Utopia Revealed Japingka Gallery, Fremantle
2006, Solo Exhibition, Gallery Savah, Brisbane