Awelye (Women's Ceremony)

Acrylic on Linen
180 x 180cm
Year Painted
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Awelye (Women's Ceremony)


Catalogue Number:MB026952 ,Width: ,Height:


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Artist Profile

Minnie Pwerle Born: c. 1922 Deceased: 2006 Language Group: Alyawarre Co…

Artist Profile

Minnie Pwerle

Born: c. 1922

Deceased: 2006

Language Group: Alyawarre

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

Medium: Acrylic on Canvas and Linen

Subjects: Awelye (Women's Ceremonial Body Paint Designs), Anemangkerr (Small Melon), Akarley (Wild Orange)

Many of Minnie's paintings reflect possibly the oldest designs of art in the world; the body painting for women's ceremony - Awelye. These are linear designs that are painted onto the chest, breasts, arms and thighs. Powders ground from red ochre (clay) and ash are used, applied with a flat stick with soft padding. During the ceremony, Minnie and the women would sing the songs associated with their awelye, paint each other and dance. Awelye ceremonies are performed to demonstrate respect for the country and the total wellbeing and health of the community.

Minnie also painted the Dreamtime story of the Anemangkerr (Bush Melon) and also of the Akarley, which may be represented in her paintings by 'a-lube-eh-ditch' loops.

Her works are very bold and free flowing and immediately capture the attention of art lovers. Having never been taught art by way of European methods, nor having visited museums and contemporary art galleries, Minnie was one of Australia's top female contemporary Indigenous artists. Her paintings are loved for being so modern in style and yet so traditional and raw in subject.

Minnie was born in Alyawarre land, approximately 200 kilometers north east of Alice Springs, in approximately 1922. Speaking very little of the English language, Minnie made a bold, swift and unexpected entry into the European world of Australia in 2000 through painting. Minnie's eldest daughter, Barbara Weir born in 1945, was taken away at the age of 9 but they were both reunited in the late 1960's. For many years Minnie detached herself from Barbara. Sorry business had been done for her many years before and it was hard for Minnie to welcome a stranger claiming to be her daughter. Their lives were so different.

Minnie had earlier married an Aboriginal man by the name of Motorcar Jim, and had six children; Aileen, Betty, Raymond and Dora Mpetyane (two other daughters passed away and are not spoken of). But it was Barbara who encouraged Minnie to paint in the latter years of her life. Barbara, being an established artist herself, gave Minnie some canvas and paints while she waited for Barbara to finish painting at a workshop in Adelaide. Minnie painted what she has always painted - the body paint designs (awelye) that belonged to her country, Atnwengerrp. The traditional colours of this country are red ochre and white; however Minnie was excited by the vast amount of colours in front of her, and never looked back. When asked numerously if Minnie enjoyed painting, Minnie's family always replied for her with wholehearted conviction 'absolutely'. And very evident it was in her enthusiasm to paint and in her work; her freedom of brush stroke and fervor of colour.

Minnie passed away on 18th March 2006 at her home in Atnwengerrp. She is survived by her children, grand children, great grand children, and siblings Margie, Molly, Emily, Geyla, Lois, Ally and Louie.


AMP Collection, Melbourne

Artbank, Sydney

Art Gallery of South Australia, Adelaide

Art Gallery of NSW, Sydney

Art Gallery of Western Australia, Perth

Australian Heritage Commission, Canberra

Hank Ebes Collection, Melbourne

Kelton Foundation, Santa Monica

Kreglinger Collection, Melbourne

Mbantua Gallery Permanent Collection, Alice Springs

Museum and Art Gallery of the Northern Territory, Darwin

National Gallery of Australia, Canberra

National Gallery of Victoria, Melbourne

Queensland Art Gallery, Brisbane

Thomas Vroom Collection, Amsterdam


2002 Selected entrant in the 2002, 19th Telstra National Aboriginal & Torres Strait Islander Art Award.

Solo Exhibitions

2002 BIG COUNTRY small worlds, Fire-works Gallery, Qld
2002 Awelye Atnwengerrp, Dacou Gallery, Adelaide
2003 Minnie Pwerl, Mbantua Gallery, Alice Springs
2004 Minnie Pwerl, Mbantua Gallery, Alice Springs
2004 Flinders Lane Gallery, Melbourne
2006 Minnie Pwerl, Mbantua Gallery, Alice Springs
2006 Memorial Exhibition, Gallery Savah, Sydney


2000 DACOU in association with AMP, an official sponsor of the Sydney 2000 Olympic Games, hosted an exhibition of mixed Utopia artists in the AMP building, Sydney
2000 Mother and Daughter, Mbantua Gallery, Alice Springs, NT
2001 Group Exhibition, Mbantua Gallery, Alice Springs, NT
2001 Painting Country, Tandanya, SA
2001 Out of Utopia, Chapman Gallery, Canberra
2001 Combined exhibition in San Anselmo, Marin County, California USA
2001 'Minnie Pwerle', Mary Pantjiti McLean- 'Tumaru Purlykumunu- small stories'- Japingka Gallery, Perth, Western Australia
2001 Painting Country, combined exhibition at Tandanya, Adelaide
2001 Combined exhibition at Dreamtime Gallery, Santa Fe, New Mexico, USA
2001 Women Artists Of the Australian Desert, combined exhibition Gallery 202, Auckland, New Zealand
2002 Generations, Japingka Gallery, WA
2002 The Utopia Six, Flinders Lane Gallery, Vic
2002 United – Mother and Daughter, Alison Kelly Gallery, Vic
2002 UTSA, New York City, USA
2002 Group Exhibition, Mbantua Gallery, Alice Springs, NT
2002 Mixed Utopia exhibition at Knut Grothe Galeri, Charlottlenlund, Copenhagen
2002 Mixed Utopia exhibition at Galerie a Le Temps Du Reve, France
2002 Contemporary Aboriginal Art from the Utopia Region, combined Exhibition at BMGART, Adelaide, SA
2002 Minnie's Country, Dacou Gallery, Adelaide, SA
2002 Mbantua Gallery USA exhibitions: Art and Soul Gallery, Nashville TN; 'The Cove Gallery' Portland OR; Urban Wine Works, Portland OR; Mary's Woods, Portland OR; New City Merchants, Knoxville, TN
2003 My Grandmother and Me, World Vision, Walkabout Gallery, Sydney
2003 Light Over Utopia, Japingka Gallery, Fremantle, WA
2003 Mbantua Gallery USA exhibitions: Art and Soul Gallery, Nashville TN; 'The Cove Gallery', Portland OR; Contemporary Aboriginal Art Event, Umpqua Bank, Portland OR; Mary's Woods, Portland OR; Art From The Dreamtime, Portland Art Museum, Portland OR
2003 Minnie Pwerle & Mitjili Napurrula, Japingka Gallery, Fremantle, WA
2004 Diva's of the Desert, Gallery Gondwana, Alice Springs, NT
2004 Black and White, Mbantua Gallery, Alice Springs
2004 Mbantua Gallery USA exhibitions: Portland, Nashville, Knoxville, Hartford, Greenwich, New York and Philadelphia
2005 'Small Wonders', Mbantua Gallery, Alice Springs, NT
2005 Utopia Revealed, Japingka Gallery, Fremantle, WA
2006 The Pwerle Sisters, Flinders Lane Gallery, Melbourne
2007 Standing on Ceremony, Tandanya Cultural Institute, Adelaide, SA
2007 Utopia in New York, Robert Steele Gallery, New York, USA
2007 Group Exhibition, Australian Embassy, Washington, USA
2007 Desert Diversity, Flinders Lane Gallery, Melbourne, VIC
2007 Treasures of the Spirit, Tandanya Cultural Institute, Adelaide, SA
2007 New Works from Utopia, Space Gallery, Pittsburgh, PA, USA
2008 Atnwengerrp: Land of Dreaming, Minnie Pwerle carpet launch, Designer Rugs Showroom, Edgecliffe, NSW
2008 Emily and Her Legacy, Hillside Gallery, Tokyo with Coo-ee Art Sydney in conjunction with the opening of the landmark retrospective exhibition Utopia – the Genius of Emily Kngwarreye at the National Art Centre, Tokyo, Japan


Artist Name, Artwork Size, Medium, Year Painted,


Artist Name:
Minnie Pwerle
Artwork Size:
180 x 180cm
Acrylic on Linen
Year Painted:
Awelye (Women's Ceremony)
Free Shipping Worldwide!:
This painting on linen will be shipped in a cylinder to you free of charge, worldwide! An option to have this painting 'stretched' onto a wooden frame may be available. If selected, further charges will apply and will be calculated at checkout.


The bold linear pattern of stripes and curves throughout Minnie's painting illustrates Awelye, women's ceremonial body paint design. After smearing their bodies with animal fat, the women trace these designs onto their breasts, arms and thighs, singing as each woman takes her turn to be 'painted-up'. Their songs relate to the dreaming stories of ancestral travel and other totemic plants, animals and natural forces. Awelye, woman's ceremony, demonstrates respect for the land and in performing these ceremonies they ensure well-being and happiness within their communities.

Minnie enjoys using many vivid colours in her paintings, however the traditional colours used during ceremony for her dreamtime stories are red and white. Her stories belong to her country, Atnwengerrp. Atnwengerrp lies in the heartland of Alyawarr country, approximately 200 kilometres to the northeast of Alice Springs, in Central Australia.

Located at
Mbantua Warehouse

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