Minnie Pwerle was born around 1922 in central Australia and died in 2006. Her country
was Atnwengerrp and she spoke Anmatyerre and Alyawarr languages. Atnwengerrrp
is a very small community on the bank of the Sandover River, 350
kilometres north east of Alice Springs.
She started painting her distinctive linear canvases in late
1999. In 2000 Minnie had her first solo exhibition in Melbourne.
Since then, she exhibited regularly throughout Australia.
Her rhythmic, linear works representing her country of Atnwengerrp
immediately captured the attention of collectors, both nationally
Minnie Pwerle's main Dreamings were Awelye-Atnwengerrp, Bush Medicine
and Bush Melon Seed, all of which convey her connection with her country
and the food it provides to the people.
Awelye-Atnwengerrp was depicted by a series of lines painted in different
widths, patterns and colours. This pattern represents the designs
painted on the top half of women's bodies during ceremonies in their
country of Atnwengerrp.
Bush Melon was represented by meandering linear design, circles and
breast motifs in different colours, creating very fluid and bold paintings.
Bush Melon Seed paining include large and small patches of colour
strewn across the canvas.
Both these Dreamings tell the story of the sweet bush tucker that
comes from a very small bush and is only found in Atnwengerrp. Once
very abundant, it is now hard to find. Minnie Pwerle and the other
women used to collect this fruit and scrape out the small black seeds.
They would then eat the fruit immediately or cut it into pieces and
skewer them on a piece of wood and dry them to be eaten in the times
when bush tucker was scarce.
Minnie had seven children, including Barbara Weir, who is a well-known
Aboriginal artist. Minnie lived in Utopia at the Arlparra
store with some of her children. She continued to paint up until her death in March 2006.