Minnie Pwerle was born in C1920’s in a remote community 350 kilometres north east of Alice Springs belonging to the Anmatyerre and Alyawarre tribe. Her life was traditional: one of six children and mother of seven and would have consisted of child rearing, food gathering and ceremony. When the batik project was introduced to Utopian women in the 1980’s, Minnie participated. She was in her seventies. When artist Lindsay Bird Mpetyane suggested the Utopian women paint on canvas using acrylic paint, Minnie, now in her eighties, began to paint her traditional designs of the awelye (women’s ceremony) and the Bush Melon Dreaming which she had inherited. Minnie began painting in 2000 at about the age of 80, and her pictures soon became popular and sought-after works of contemporary Indigenous Australian art. With popularity came pressure from those keen to acquire her work. She was allegedly "kidnapped" by people who wanted her to paint for them, and there have been media reports of her work being forged. Sprightly and outgoing, even in her eighties she could outrun younger women chasing goannas for bushfood, and she continued to create art works until two days before her death on 18 March 2006. She was outlived by all her sisters except Maggie Pwerle, mother of artists Gloria and Kathleen Petyarre (or Pitjara). Minnie got the name motorcar because she was one of the first people in her community to own a motorcar.
Artworks by Minnie Pwerle
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