Barbara Weir

Barbara Weir


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Browse Original Barbara Weir Artworks Below

Born: 1940

Language Group: Anmatyerre and Alyawarre

Country: Atnwengerrp, Utopia Region, North East of Alice Springs

Medium: Acrylic on Canvas and Linen

Subjects: Grass Seed Dreaming, Wild Flowers, My Mother's Country, Creation of My Mother's Country, Beginning of the Creation, My Place, Countryside, Bush Berry

About Barbara Weir

Barbara Weir was born in 1940 at what was formerly known as Bundy River Station in the region of Utopia, North East of Alice Springs; her mother the late Minnie Pwerle, renowned Utopia and Australian artist, and her father an Irish station owner Jack Weir.

Being of mixed heritage Barbara was hidden from welfare patrol from the age of two and 'grown up' by her Aunty, the most famed female Aboriginal artist of all time, the late Emily Kame Kngwarreye. At the age of nine Barbara was taken away from her family by welfare while collecting water at Utopia Station, now known as Utopia Homestead. She is one of the people known as the 'stolen generation'. Barbara was taken to Bungalow (now known as the Telegraph Station) to get cleaned up, and then taken to St Mary's Home in Alice Springs. She was later moved to various children's homes around Australia, first in Victoria followed by the Receiving Home in Darwin and the Good Shepherd Home in Ipswich, before eventually returning to Darwin. During these years she was forced to speak English and forget her native tongue, and was told that her mother was dead. Though she lost contact with her family she was determined to return to them, to show she was alive and reclaim her heritage.

In the late 1960's Barbara was fortunate to find her family and returned to Utopia, the land of her birth, with her three children. The reunion was a happy one, but it was marred by the fact that Barbara was unable to communicate with the family, as she did not speak the language. Over the course of the next two and a half decades, Barbara had three more children and mastered both the Anmatyerre and Alyawarre languages and is one of the few people to do so from scratch.

On returning to her home and her unique relationship with Emily Kame Kngwarreye (who was then a well known batik artist) Barbara became interested in painting and showed a flair and talent for the art. In 1994, Barbara and other Aboriginal women travelled to Indonesia to learn more about the art of batik. The Utopia women were well known for their beautiful batiks as this contributed to the Aboriginal community buying back the region of Utopia in 1974 and making it their own.

Barbara returned from Indonesia full of ideas for developing her own creative style. In 1996 Barbara travelled to Switzerland and Paris at the request of a gallery owner who commissioned some of Barbara's work. The collection was a sellout and ensured Barbara's place as a respected artist.

In 1996, after the death of Emily Kame Kngwarreye, Barbara concentrated on developing her skill as an artist and soon attracted the attention of collectors by producing works that were contemporary in style, including her now famed Grass Seed paintings. Inspired by a small grass found in Utopia called Lyaw, Munyeroo or Pigweed, Barbara's Grass Seed paintings consist of a series of small brush strokes that overlap and weave to create a swaying effect. It is an energetic style exclusive to Barbara.

My Mother's Country, another renowned style of Barbara's, is a series of works testament to her skill as an artist. Completely different to the Grass Seed, these works are an intricate formation of dot work, with various background shapes representing different aspects of the country. This background can be very subtle or quite dramatic in appearance depending on the main theme, but this series of works illustrates Barbara's knowledge and respect for her country. Barbara's limited Countryside paintings depict similar subjects with subtle differences in colour and dot work.

In 2002, Barbara moved back to Central Australia. Keen to experiment with new designs and recreate masterpieces of the past, Barbara has all the resources at her fingertips thus allowing her creativity to fully reveal and develop into stunning works. Although now in her seventies, Barbara continues to develop her painting skill. She is always challenging and seeking new designs and methods of painting.

Learn about our other inspiring Aboriginal artists via their profiles.

Collections

AMP Collection

Art Gallery of South Australia, Adelaide, SA

Ebes Collection, Workum, Netherlands

The Mbantua Gallery Collection, Alice Springs NT

Queensland College of Art, Griffith University, QLD

The University of Adelaide, SA

Art Gallery of Queensland, Brisbane

Artbank, Sydney

National Gallery of Victoria, Melbourne

The Holmes à Court Collection, Perth

Hitachi Collection

Macquarie Bank Collection

Exhibitions (From 2005)

2005 Barbara Weir and Daughter, Mbantua Gallery, Alice Springs, NT
2005 Invitational Private Exhibition at Madigans Restaurant, Alice Springs with Mbantua Gallery to meet with HRH Prince of Wales
2005 Barbara Weir, Addison Road Gallery, Marrickville, NSW
2005 Small Wonders (A collection of 1'x1' and 1'x1½' paintings), Mbantua Gallery, Alice Springs, N.T
2005 Evolution of Utopia, Cultural Museum, Mbantua Gallery, Alice Springs
2006 Evolution of Utopia, Cultural Museum, Mbantua Gallery, Alice Springs
2007 Group exhibition, Robert Steele Gallery, NY, USA
2007 Standing on Ceremony, Tandanya Cultural Institute, Adelaide, SA
2007 Solo exhibition, Blowing in the Wind, Artmob, Hobart, Tas
2007 New Works from Utopia, Space Gallery, Pittsburg, PA, USA
2008 Dreamings – the Land, Outback Aboriginal Land, Caulfield, Vic
2009 Holmes à Court Gallery, Perth, WA
2009 My Country, Dacou Gallery Melbourne, Vic
2009 Utopia, Colours of the Desert, Gongpyeong Art Space in collaboration with Dacou, Australian Embassy in Korea and Crossbay Gallery, Seoul, Korea
2010 Desert Art from Utopia, DACOU Gallery, Melbourne
2010 Latest Works from Barbara Weir, Mbantua Gallery, Alice Springs NT
2011 New Beginnings, Brits Arts and Promotions, Uebach-Palenberg, Germany
2014 New to View: Utopia, FireWorks Gallery, Brisbane
2015 Women of Papunya, Kate Owen Gallery, Sydney
2017 Atnwengerrp Revisited | Family Show and Artist in Residence Programme, Kate Owen Gallery, Sydney
2018 Earth's Creation, Emily Kame and Family, Kate Owen Gallery, Sydney
2019 Solo exhibition. Mbantua Gallery, Alice Springs, NT

 

Further References

Discovery Media: June 2000 – Utopia Revisited - Film following Barbara Weir's rediscovery of her family.

View artist Barbara Weir’s works below

Browse our collection of artworks from Aboriginal artist Barbara Weir below. If you have any questions about our artists or gallery, contact our team on +61 8 8952 5571.