This painting by Jeannie Mills Pwerle features the patterns representative of the yam dreaming. This is a stylized representation of the yam stacked together ready for use in cooking. The collecting stories feature in the women’s paintings from the utopia region and are often depicted using a very vibrant colour pallette such as this one with bright purples and blues.
Born in the Atnwengerrp region in the Northern Territory, Jeannie Mills Pwerle is an Alyawarre woman and an established Utopian artist. Many members of her family are also well known artists. Her mother is the acclaimed artist Dolly Mills and her uncle was Greeny Purvis Petyarre (late), a well respected elder in her community.
Jeannie Mills Pwerle predominantly depicts the Bush Yam dreaming from her father’s country of Irrwelty in Utopia. Thick segments in bright and varied colours represent the flowers and root of the yam, while precise and detailed dotwork usually in white between the segments represents the yam seeds.
Jeannie had artwork selected for exhibition in the 25th Telstra National Aboriginal and Torres Straight Islander Art Award in 2008, a prestigious award that introduced Jeannie Mills Pwerle to an international audience.
Women from Utopia typically paint the sources of food and medicine collected by women in the area. Other artists from Utopia included Gloria Petyarre, Kathleen Petyarre, Emily Kame Kngwarraye among others.
Utopia is a community that is situated around 350km north-east of Alice Springs. The land around the community is stunning and although the community has been featured for many of the wrong reasons in the media there is a thriving art scene where many well known, particularly women, artists paint.
The women in this community began painting in Batik as part of a government sponsored project. A group of artists were taken to Indonesia to learn about Batik technique and produced a large number of fabrics that were exhibited all over the world.
Gloria Petyarre is also from Utopia.