Country: Atnwengerrp, Utopia Region, North East of Alice Springs, Northern Territory
Medium: Acrylic on Canvas and Linen
Subjects: Awelye (Women's Ceremony), Beginning of Creation, Burning Grass, Creation of My Mother's Country, Creation of My Mother's Dreamtime, Dancing Lines, Grass Seed Dreaming, My Country, My Mother's Country, Sunrise of My Mother's Country
Barbara Weir was born in 1940 at what was formerly known as Derry Downs 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.
AMP Collection, Melbourne, VIC
Art Gallery of South Australia, Adelaide, SA
Ebes Collection, Workum, The Netherlands
Mbantua Gallery Collection, Alice Springs, NT
Queensland College of Art, Griffith University, QLD
University of Adelaide, Adelaide, SA
Art Gallery of Queensland, Brisbane, QLD
Artbank, Sydney, NSW
National Gallery of Victoria, Melbourne, VIC
The Holmes à Court Collection, Perth, WA
Mbantua Gallery USA exhibitions
Barbara Weir, Addison Road Gallery, Marrickville, NSW
Evolution of Utopia - opened by the Honorable Robert Hill, Mbantua Gallery, Alice Springs, NT
Standing on Ceremony, Tandanya National Aboriginal Cultural Institute, Adelaide, SA
New Works from Utopia, Space Gallery, Pittsburgh, PA, USA
Dreamings - the Land, Outback Aboriginal Art, Melbourne, VIC
Utopia - Colours of the Desert, Gongpyeong Art Space in collaboration with DACOU, Australian Embassy in Korea and Crossbay Gallery, Seoul, Korea
Latest Works from Barbara Weir, Mbantua Gallery, Alice Springs, NT
New Beginnings, Brits Arts and Promotions, Uebach-Palenberg, Germany
New to View: Utopia, Fireworks Gallery, Brisbane, QLD
Women of Papunya, Kate Owen Gallery, Sydney, NSW
Atnwengerrp Revisited | Family Show and Artist in Residence Programme, Kate Owen Gallery, Sydney, NSW
Earth's Creation - Emily Kame and Family, Kate Owen Gallery, Sydney, NSW
Solo Exhibition, Mbantua Gallery, Alice Springs, NT
(2000) Utopia Revisited - Film following Barbara Weir's rediscovery of her family