Australian Contemporary Art
Charmaine Pwerle is the daughter of well known artist, Barbara Weir and Granddaughter of Minnie Pwerle. She was surrounded by artists all her life, including such role models with artists such as
Emily Kame Kngwarreye and Gloria Petyarre among them.
Awelye, or body paint design is her family story, painted by her grandmother and great aunts.
My Grandmother’s Country:
Minnie Pwerle, came from a region called Atnwengerrp at Utopia and it is this country and the body paint
designs that Charmaine depicts in her paintings.
The women paint each other’s breasts and upper bodies with ochre markings, before dancing in a ceremony. The body designs are important and, painted on chest and shoulders, they relate to each particular woman’s dreaming. The ochre pigment is ground into powder form and mixed with charcoal and ash before being applied with a flat padded stick or with fingers in raw linear and curving patterns. The circles in these designs represent the sites and movement where the ceremonies take place.
The lines in the painting depict the tracks that her ancestors travelled. The large semi circular shapes
represent the sandhills and valleys. The dark colour represents the path of a fire that has swept across the land
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