Charmaine Pwerle is the daughter of Barbara Weir, who is a leading Indigenous artist from the Utopia region in Central Australia. Charmaine comes from a family with rich artistic talent; her grandmothers include Minnie Pwerle and Emily Kngwarreye, Emily being the most famous Indigenous artist from the Utopia region. With all of this artistic flare surrounding her; Charmaine has been able to draw on the teachings of her family to create beautiful and culturally significant works of art in her own right.
I (Sabine Haider, Director of Central Art) have known Charmaine Pwerle since 2010 when I was introduced to her through her mother, Barbara Weir. Charmaine’s daughters kindly modelled some unique jewellery pieces from the “Utopia Collection” for Central Art. The jewellery had depictions of significant Aboriginal art pieces from their great aunt and grandmothers including Barbara Weir, Gloria Petyarre and Emily Kngwarreye.
Charmaine was born in 1975 in Alice Springs. She spent significant periods of time in Utopia, Alice Springs and Adelaide growing up and attending school in Utopia, St Phillips Boarding College, Alice Springs High School and boarding school in Adelaide.
In 1992 she returned to Utopia as a young woman and worked at the Urapuntja Council as a junior administration assistant and lived with her mother and grandparents Minnie Pwerle and Motorcar Jim at Soakage Bore which is the family’s homeland. This is now called Utopia Station.
During her time at Utopia Station she learnt about her heritage, culture, ceremonies and the sacred stories from her land, all of this important knowledge was passed onto her by her grandmothers. She was taught traditional aboriginal iconography used in physical depictions of her Dreaming stories. It is this sacred and important knowledge which is the inspiration for her art. In doing so she is carrying on the family tradition of an artistic career. I believe strongly in Charmaine and as an emerging artist in time she will develop as a well known artist in her own right. She has the same artistic vision as her mother and it is in her veins, like her brother Fred Torres and sister Therese Purla. Central Art has had a long standing and ongoing relationship with the women from Utopia and we have many artworks from Charmaine’s family in particular.
Charmaine’s artwork is very well executed. She paints the same Dreamtime story as Minnie Pwerle and there are similarities between their works however Charmaine’s appear more practiced and confident. The patterns and movements of the artworks are unique to her and the overall design works well. Charmaine’s Awelye paintings depict women’s business which is all of the important knowledge, ceremony and roles of women including the law, social and moral customs, rites and ceremonies. The actual paintings represent the body paint design which is worn by women during these ceremonies. These designs also mirror dancing tracks which the women would follow during ceremonial periods.
Charmaine lives in Alice Springs with her partner and her four daughters and step-daughter. She is dedicating more time toward her art and is under the guidance and support of her mother Barbara. It is important for Utopia that not only the Dreamings are passed on through generations but the artistic skills and sacred iconography is passed down through the generations, with each generation taking the rite of passage to receive the sacred knowledge. Charmaine is now a third generation artist and as an art lover it is exciting to see the evolution of art from Utopia and each generations and individuals unique expression of significant Dreamings. Central Art is proud to showcase her works in our gallery and website.
I recommend keeping a close watch over Charmaine’s career as I certainly will be.
Important copyright notice
The Copyright of all images and documentation remains with Sabine Haider. The Australian Copyright Act protects all artists from unauthorised copying by giving control over original works of art to the artist by law. However depending on the use proposed, Sabine Haider from Central Art – Aboriginal Art Store can facilitate reproduction of works with the permission of the artist as we have developed close relationships over the years with many individual painters and craftspeople.
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