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Minnie Pwerle

Atnwengerrp, Utopia Region

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.

Many of Minnie's paintings reflect possibly the oldest designs of art in the world; the body painting for women's ceremony - Awely. 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. This stick is called a "typale". During the ceremony, Minnie and the women would sing the songs associated with their awely, paint each other and dance. Awely ceremonies are performed to demonstrate respect for the country and the total well-being and health of the community.

Minnie also painted the Dreamtime story of the Anemangkerr (Bush Melon) and also of the Akarley (Wild Orange), which are 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 Alyawarr country, approximately 200 kilometers north east of Alice Springs, in approximately 1920. 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 (awely) 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 numerous times 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 fervour of colour.

Abie Loy Kemarre
Ada Bird Petyarre
Agnes Jones Petyarr
Aileen Mpetyane
Ally Kemarre
Angela Purvis Ngale
Angelina Ngale (Pwerle)
Anna Price Petyarre
Anna Tilmouth Pengarte
Annie Purvis Mpetyane
Anthony Bird Mpetyane
April Haines
Audrey Morton Kngwarrey
Barbara Long Kngwarreye
Barbara Weir
Benny Morton Kngwarrey
Betty Mpetyane Club
Billy Morton Petyarre
Bronwyn Payne Ngale
Carolyn Price Pwerle
Colin Bird Jungala
Colin Price
Colleen Wallace Nungari
Connie Petyarr Club
Cowboy Loy Pwerle
David Lime Kngwarrey
Dolly Petyarre Mills
Don Onion Pwerle
Doreen Payne Petyarr
Eileen Bird Nungarai
Elizabeth Loy Kngwarreye
Elsie Dixon Penangke
Emily Kame Kngwarreye
Emily Pwerle
Gabriella Wallace
Gary Bird Mpetyane
Genevieve Loy Kemarre
Glady Kemarre
Gloria Petyarre Mills
Gloria Tamerre Petyarre
Greeny Purvis Petyarre
Harold Payne Mpetyane
Hazel Morton Kngwarrey
Jacinta Campbell
Janelle Stockman Napaltjarri
Janice Clarke Kngwarrey
Jean Mills Pwerl
Jean Petyarre
Jeannie Mills Pwerl
Jedda Purvis Kngwarreye
Jennifer Purvis Kngwarreye
Jessie Bird Ngale
Joy Purvis Petyarre
Judy Purvis Kngwarreye
Julie Pengarte
Julie Purvis Mpetyane
June Bird Ngale
Karen Bird Ngale
Kathleen Ngale
Kathleen Petyarre
Kathleen Purvis Kemarre
Katie Kemarre
Kenny Tilmouth Penangke
Kylie Kemarre (Clarke)
Laura Payne Ngale
Lena Pwerle
Lily Lion Kngwarrey
Lindsay Bird Mpetyane
Lisa Mills Pwerl
Lorna Purvis Penangke
Lucky Morton Kngwarrey
Maggie Bird Mpetyane
Maggie Dixon Penangke
Marcia Turner Pwerl
Margaret Price Pananka
Marie Ryder
Marlene Coombe
Marlene Rogers Kngwarrey
Mary Jones
Mary Morton Kemarre
Maureen Purvis Kngwarreye
Michelle Lion Kngwarrey
Minnie Pwerle
Molly Pwerle
Myrtle Petyarre
Nancy Kunoth Petyarre
Nora Moore Kemarre
Nora Petyarre Club
Noranda Loy Kemarre
Paddy Bird Jungala (Ngale)
Pansy McLeod Petyarre
Patsy Long Kemarre
Pauline Morgan Petyarre
Peggy Purvis Mpetyane
Polly Ngale
Queenie Lion Kemarre
Rita Pwerle
Rochelle Ferguson
Ronnie Bird Jungala
Rosemary Bird Mpetyane
Rosie Bird Ngale
Rosie Pwerle
Ruby Morton Kngwarrey
Sacha Long
Sandra Teese Apwerl
Sarah Morton Kngwarrey
Shirley Dixon Kemarre
Susan Mpetyane Purvis
Susan Philomac Kngwarrey
Suson Lion Kngwarrey
Teresa Purla
Thelma Dixon Kemarre
Therese Ryder
Tommy Jones
Violet Payne Ngale
Violet Petyarre
Wendy Kunoth Mpetyane


Mbantua Australian Aboriginal Art Gallery & Cultural Museum Alice Springs
71 Gregory Terrace, PO Box 8118
Alice Springs, Northern Territory 0871 Australia
Office Phone: + 618 8952 5571
Mbantua Fine Art Gallery - Darwin
Holiday Inn Esplanade, 93 Mitchell St
Darwin, Northern Territory 0800 Australia
Office Phone: + 618 8941 6611
Aboriginal Art
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