Barbara Weir was born circa 1945 at Urupunta (Bundey River Station) in the Utopia region. Her parents, Aboriginal woman Minnie Pwerle and Irish-Australian stockman Jack Weir, were jailed due to anti-miscegenation laws, so she was brought up by her aunt, the well known artist Emily Kame Kngwarreye. At age nine she was forcibly removed from her home country, in line with the assimilationist policies of the time, and it was not until the late 1960s that she was reunited with her family. As a member of the stolen generation she had lost her ancestral language and had to relearn the Anmatyerre language in order to communicate with them. Initially she did not form a close bond with her mother Minnie Pwerle, though much later, in 2001 it would be under Weir’s influence that Pwerle began her own successful art practice. In light of her experiences Weir has become a political activist, campaigning for land rights, and in 1985 became the first female president of the Urapunta Council. She began her art practice under the influence of her aunty Emily Kame Kngwarreye in 1989 and paints stories concerning Mothers Country, Grass Seed, Bush Plum, Bush Yam, Bush Banana and Bush Berry Dreamings. Her style has developed from initial works on canvas to experiments with batik in the early 1990s, to the highly original acrylic on canvas works she produces today which include design elements of Awelye (body paint) and vibrant, layered colours. In her own words: “I paint my mother’s country, the land where we live, find and prepare our food. I paint the same old stories I heard as a child, only my personal style is different”.1
National Gallery of Australia, Canberra
National Gallery of Victoria, Melbourne, Australia
The Art Gallery of South Australia, Adelaide, Australia
The Queensland Art Gallery, Brisbane, Australia
1993: 2000 Finalist, Redlands Westpac Art Prize, Mosman Art Gallery, NSW
2005 – 2000 Finalist, 17th Annual National Aboriginal and Torres Strat Islander Art Award
1998 Finalist, 15th Annual National Aboriginal and Torres Strat Islander Art Award
1997 Finalist, 14th Annual National Aboriginal and Torres Strat Islander Art Award
1 Angeloro, D. Barbara Weir and Friends, Sydney Morning Herald, 2 April 2004.
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