Back in late August I did a trip to Utopia, and among visiting other Outstations, I met up with Barbara Weir at Atnwengerrp (Nungi for short I am told)!!
I usually pull up under a spindly old tree that offers a bit of shade and is also close to a large bush humpy where the Hunter sisters, the older Pwerle sister and a few others live. (And Lily and Michelle Lion have a much smaller one nearby...)
The artists and lots of their families and dogs, always come over to the back of my car and traditionally sit down on the ground and wait their turn to get to me. This is where we get the majority of our paintings, and I pay them up front and distribute additional canvas and paint to those who want more
Barbara has a small house in the community, and she drove across. She got her fold-up chair out and joined into the chatter and banter that goes on. We immediately nicknamed her the Queen because she looked like royalty on her chair!! At that time, she was a month short of turning 80, and for her age is still very active with her community responsibilities, her family and of course her own art!
Her mother Minnie Pwerle, the eldest of the 4 Pwerle sisters passed away back in 2006, however Minnie’s “younger” sisters Molly, Emily and Geyla (sometimes spelt Gayla) are still alive and painting. All were born in the bush (bush born) so there is no definite known date of birth, but Molly would without doubt be into her nineties. Molly nursed Barbara when she was just a few days old. And only last week Barbara was telling me that she and Molly both still to this day get together and chat about this in the Alyawarre language.
I collected some marvellous paintings while I was there from all of these bush ladies. I asked Teresa Purla (Barbara’s oldest daughter) if she would take a few photo’s for me so I could put them on our website to give viewers a mental image of where most of our paintings come from. Teresa also lives at “Nungi” and always comes over and gives me a hand on my visits.
After a couple of hours, I finished at the car, and then wandered over to the bush camp with Teresa where Molly lives. She had a few linear one’s finished and I really like them. For the purist who loves the fine dot paintings, then Molly is not for them. But for those who can identify with an old bush lady who can still manage to paint, who was brought up under the umbrella of mythology and ceremony then these dancing and song line paintings will have significance.
For those people who really like the fine dot work, then the Hunter sisters from this Outstation along with Lizzie Moss, Janie Morgan are worth having a close look at.
Before I left, Teresa showed me some partially completed works of hers which looked great, and as I type I’m fairly certain that we have a few on the website but not many because they normally don’t last too long.
A 3-hour drive back to Alice Springs, and plenty to do the next day!