Minnie Pwerle

Minnie Pwerle

Minnie Pwerle

Born: c. 1922

Deceased: 2006

Language Group: Alyawarre

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

Medium: Acrylic on Canvas and Linen

Subjects: Awelye (Women's Ceremony), Anemangkerr (Bush Melon) Dreaming, Akarley (Northern Wild Orange), Awelye (Women's Ceremony) for Anemangkerr (Bush Melon)

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.
AMP Collection, Melbourne, VIC
Artbank, Sydney, NSW
Art Gallery of South Australia, Adelaide, SA
Art Gallery of New South Wales, Sydney, NSW
Art Gallery of Western Australia, Perth, WA
Australian Heritage Commission, Canberra, ACT
Hank Ebes Collection, Melbourne
The Kelton Foundation, Santa Monica, USA
Kreglinger Collection, Melbourne, VIC
Mbantua Gallery Collection, Alice Springs, NT
Mother and Daughter, Artitja Fine Art, Fremantle, WA
Painting Country - Combined Exhibition, Tandanya National Aboriginal Cultural Institute, Adelaide, SA
Out of Utopia, Chapman Gallery, Canberra, ACT
Minnie Pwerle - Mary Pantjiti McLean - Tumaru Purlykumunu, Japingka Gallery, Perth, WA
Women Artists of the Australian Desert, Combined Exhibition, Gallery 202, Auckland, New Zealand
BIG COUNTRY small worlds, Fireworks Gallery, Brisbane, QLD
Awelye Atnwengerrp, DACOU Art Gallery, Adelaide, SA
Generations, Japingka Gallery, Perth, WA
Mbantua Gallery USA exhibitions
My Grandmother and Me, World Vision Walkabout, Sydney, NSW
Divas of the Desert, Gallery Gondwana, Sydney and Alice Springs, NSW and NT
Small Wonders, Mbantua Gallery, Alice Springs, NT
The Pwerle Sisters, Flinders Lane Gallery, Melbourne, VIC
Utopia in New York, Robert Steele Gallery, New York City, NY, USA
Emily and Her Legacy, Hillside Gallery with Coo-ee Art Sydney, Tokyo, Japan