Minnie PWERLE - Awelye Atnwengerrp

Minnie PWERLE - Awelye Atnwengerrp

2004, 30 x 30cm ADG:4557

ADG: 4557



Little Melon, 2004

30 x 30cm


Minnie MOTORCAR PWERLE - Biography

c.1920s - 2006

Languages Anmatyerre, Alyawarr

Country Atnwengerrp, Utopia, N.T.

Region Central Desert, Northern Territory

Dreamings Bush Melon, Awelye-Atnwengerrp (Women's Dreaming), Awelye -Body Paint Design

Minnie Pwerle was born c. 1920s at Atnwengerrp in the Utopia region. She spoke both Anmatyerre and Alyawarr languages. Her painting career began late in life, with bold, vibrantly coloured, linear works. Minnie's daughter, Barbara Weir is a respected artist.

Minnie’s paintings depict traditional body paint designs and her totem- the bush melon which she had cultural responsibility to look after. Bush Melon is represented by meandering linear design, circles and breast motifs in different colours, creating very fluid and bold paintings. Bush Melon Seed comprises 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 Atnwengerr in north Utopia. Once very abundant and fruiting in the summer it is now very 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 the pieces onto a piece of wood, then dry them to be eaten in the coming months when bush tucker was scarce.

Minnie’s confident contemporary paintings have been compared to Tony Tuckson (1921-1973) for their free-flowing linear quality, or to the Fauves for their love of and experimentation with colour.

Named as one of Australia’s 50 Most Collectable Artists in 2004, she is represented in major private and public collections in Australia and overseas, including national and state galleries.


National Gallery of Victoria

Art Gallery of NSW

Queensland Art Gallery

Art Gallery of South Australia

La Trobe University

Kelton Foundation

Kreglinger Collection

Thomas Vroom Collection

John McBride Collection

AMP Collection

Corrigan Collection

Hank Ebes Collection

Fred Torres Collection

Solo Exhibitions

2004 - Minnie Pwerle, Flinders Lane Gallery, Melbourne

Group Exhibitions

2006 - Utopia, Galerie DAD, France; The second Shalom Gamarada Aboriginal Art Exhibition, Shalom College, University of New South Wales, Sydney.

2005 - Chefs d'Oeuvre - Maitres du Desert, Galerie DAD, Mantes-la-Jolie, France; 22nd Telstra National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Art Award, Museum and Art Gallery of the Northern Territory, Darwin; The Dark and The Light, Fire-Works Gallery, Brisbane.

2004 - Twenty Indigenous Female Artists From Central Australia, Ann Snell Gallery; Australian Aboriginal Art Collector's Exhibition, Flinders Lane Gallery, Melbourne; 21st Telstra National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Art Award, Museum and Art Gallery of the Northern Territory, Darwin; Colour Power - Aboriginal Art Post 1984, The Ian Potter Centre, NGV Australia, Melbourne.

2003 - Minnie Pwerle, Melbourne; Alice Springs; Generations, Japingka, WA.;

2003 - 20th Telstra National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Art Award, Museum and Art Gallery of the Northern Territory, Darwin.

Out of Utopia, Canberra; San Anselmo, Marin County California, USA; Tumaru Purlykumunu, Small Stories, Perth WA; Desert Colour- My Country, Darwin NT; Painting Country, combined exhibition, Tandanya, Adelaide; Santa Fey, New Mexico USA; Women Artists of the Australian Desert, Auckland, New Zealand.

2000 Minnie Pwerle, Sydney, Melbourne and Alice Springs; DACOU in association with AMP Utopia artists, Sydney


Ranking - Most Important Australian Indigenous Artists (both living and deceased)

2011 Ranked 25/100


Ryan, Judith. Colour Power - Aboriginal Art Post 1984, National Gallery of Victoria, Melbourne, 2004

Tradition and Transformation: Indigenous art in the NGV Collection. National Gallery of Victoria.

McCulloch, Alan; Susan McCulloch, Emily McCulloch Childs (2006). The new McCulloch's Encyclopaedia of Australian Art. Fitzroy, VIC: Aus Art Editions in association with The Miegunyah Press

De Brabander, Dallas (1994). Utopia. In David Horton. Encyclopaedia of Aboriginal Australia

Green, Jenny (2007). Holding the country: Art from Utopia and the Sandover. In Hetti Perkins, Margaret West. One Sun One Moon: Aboriginal Art in Australia. Sydney: Art Gallery of New South Wales

Birnberg, Margo; Janusz Kreczmanski (2004). Aboriginal Artist Dictionary of Biographies: Australian Western, Central Desert and Kimberley Region. Marleston, South Australia: J.B. Publishing

Morphy, Howard (1998). The contemporary art of Central Australia. Aboriginal Art. London: Phaidon Press

20th National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Art Award. Catalogue. NATSIAA. 2003.

22nd National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Art Award. Catalogue. NATSIAA. 2005.

50 of Australia’s Most Collectable Artists 2004. Australian Art Collector 27. 2004.

Johnson, Vivien (2000). Desert art. In Sylvia Kleinert and Margo Neale. The Oxford Companion to Aboriginal Art and Culture. Melbourne: Oxford University Press.

Ryan, Judith (2008). Prelude to canvas: batik cadenzas wax lyrical. In Judith Ryan. Across the Desert: Aboriginal batik from Central Australia. Melbourne: National Gallery of Victoria.

McCulloch, Susan (2005). Late bloomer [Profile of artist Minnie Pwerle]. Australian Art Collector 32 (Apr–Jun 2005):

Eccles, Jeremy (20 December 2009). The Met admits Aboriginal art. Aboriginal Art News

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