- Skin Name:
- Region:Utopia, Central Australia
- Dreaming:Grass Seeds, My Mothers Country, Bush Berry, Awelye
I (Sabine Haider, Director Central Art) have had the absolute pleasure of working with Barbara Weir since 2005. Barbara is a truly remarkable woman who has overcome many hurdle’s in her life, she is not only a survivor but a warrior in ways. She is a strong, independent, self-motivated and determined woman and all of her accomplishments to date are a true reflection of this amazing woman.
Barbara was born in 1945 at Bundy River Station, a cattle station in the Utopia region in Central Australia. Barbara is the daughter of famous Utopian artist Minnie Pwerle and Jack Weir; an Irish stockman who owned Bundy River Station at the time. Given Barbara’s mixed heritage and under the Aborigines Protection Amending Act of 1915, the anti-miscegenation racial laws at the time, her parent’s relationship was deemed illegal and both were jailed for a period of time and Barbara became part of what the Australian public now refer to as the Stolen Generations. Jack Weir passed away shortly after his release.
As a young child Barbara was raised in the Utopia region with her mother and extended family, her aunt the famous Emily Kngwarreye played a large role in raising Barbara as a child. She was often hid from government and welfare officials whose role it was, was to locate and take into custody any child of mixed heritage who could be assimilated into “white” society. Her family did a marvellous job for a period of time however at age nine Barbara was located and removed from her family. She was placed in various foster homes and group homes in Alice Springs and throughout Australia. During this traumatic period Barbara was forced to forget her native tongue and told her mother and family were dead, likewise her family also believed that after her removal she was later killed.
It wasn’t until the 1968 that Barbara returned to Alice Springs and the Utopia region to be reunited with her mother and family. The reunion was highly emotional as to be expected but brought significant challenges as Barbara no longer spoke her language. This did not discourage Barbara who over the following two decades mastered two Aboriginal languages – Anmatyerre and Alyawarre, which is a huge credit to her as to learn both languages from scratch is no small feat. During this period Barbara reconnected with her aunt, Emily Kngwarreye and re-established their bond.
It wasn’t until 1977 after her divorce that Barbara returned to Utopia to live with six children. During her time there, Barbara became active in the local land rights movements and was elected the first woman president of the Indigenous Urapunta Council in 1985.
Barbara did not begin painting until 1989 after spending significant periods of time observing her aunt Emily; who had a profound impact on her. She began to explore the artistic traditions of her region and five years later, in 1994, she was part of a group of 10 Utopian women who travelled to study Batik, or silk painting, in Indonesia. At this time she began to seriously explore her own individual talents and styles and has used the traditional knowledge she has gained and experimented with her own interpretations. In 1996, Emily Kame Kngwarreye passed away, at this time Barbara who was still exploring and developing her skills began to attract attention from collectors around Australia and overseas. Her now famed Grass Seeds artworks were considered contemporary and unique.
Coming from a family group and region which has some of the most outstanding female artists, Barbara has become a well-respected and highly sought after artist in her own right. Her artworks have been exhibited widely throughout Australia and internationally and have been collected by major institutions. Not only has Barbara established herself as a top Australian Aboriginal Artist but in 2000 she also began managed her elderly mother’s career, protecting her from being used and taken advantage of by underhanded art dealers and the like.
In 2002, Barbara again made the move back to Alice Springs and continues to live here today. She visits her homeland regularly. She is a highly talented and skilled artist who uses a variety of different styles to depict her family connections, life experiences, and Dreaming stories. She continues to lead the way in developing new and exciting ways of creating stories through art.
Some other accomplishments of Barbara’s include being featured in an advertisement for the Australian Tourist Commission, titled “Barbara Weir’s Australia” and being listed in the Top 50 of Australia’s most collectable artist by Australian Art Collector Magazine in 2009.
In 2010 Central Art held an online solo exhibition of Barbara’s amazing works titled, “In the Footprints of Barbara Weir”. The exhibition was very successful with a large portion of her artworks sold.
For any serious collector Barbara’s works are a must. Her beautiful and colourful artworks would brighten and enhance any room and I strongly encourage anyone considering purchasing a unique piece to contemplate one of Barbara’s master pieces.
- DACOU – Barbara Weir talks about Emily Kame Kngwarreye (2010), video, DACOU Gallery, 20 January, [http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hE84r4JDEA8]
- Discovery Media (2000), Utopia Revisited, June.
- Geissler, M. (2006). A Recovered Heritage. Crafts Art International. Issue 66. Page 36-39.
- King, V. (2000) Barbara Weir in Kleinert, S. & Neale, M. The Oxford Companion to Aboriginal Art and Culture. Oxford University Press, Melbourne.
- Kreczmanski, J. & Birnberg, M. (2004) Aboriginal Artist Dictionary of Biographies: Australian Western, Central Desert and Kimberley Region. J.B Publishing, Marleston.
- Lacey, S. (2006), ‘Spirited away, but with a happy ending’, The Sydney Morning Herald, 18 November. URL: [http://www.smh.com.au/news/arts/spirited-away-but-with-a-happy-ending/2006/11/16/1163266707195.html?page=fullpage]
- Popham, B 1987, 'Saving the future', Weekend Australian Magazine, 7-8 February, p. 10.
- Usher, R. (2004), ‘Joining the dots on the way to Utopia”, The Age, 15 July. URL: [http://www.theage.com.au/articles/2004/07/14/1089694407829.html]
- Art Gallery of South Australia, Adelaide.
- Art Gallery of Queensland, Brisbane.
- Artbank, Sydney.
- Queensland College of Art Griffith University, QLD.
- Hank Ebes Collection – Workum, The Netherlands.
- University of Adelaide, Adelaide.
- AMP Collection.
- National Gallery of Victoria, Melbourne.
- Holmes a Court Collection.
- Hitachi Collection.
- Macquarie Bank Collection.
- 2012, “Barbara Weir”, Kate Owen Gallery, NSW.
- 2010, “In the Footprints of Barbara Weir”, Central Art, Alice Springs
- 2009, “Utopia, Colours of the Desert”, Gongpyeong Art Space in collaboration with DACOU, Australian Embassy in Korea and Crossbay Gallery, Seoul, Korea.
- 2009, Janet Holmes a Court Gallery, Perth.
- 2009, “My Country”, DACCOU Gallery, Melbourne.
- 2008, Red Rock Gallery, Beijing, China.
- 2008, “Dreamings – The Land”, Outback Aboriginal Land, Caulfield, VIC.
- 2008, “Utopia Revisited”, NG Art Gallery, Chippendale, NSW.
- 2008, “Utopia Discoveries”, Flinders Lane Gallery, Melbourne.
- 2008, “EWB Elements”, DACOU in collaboration with Dreamtime Art, (travelling exhibition of Australia).
- 2008, “Blue: A Group Exhibition”, Fireworks Gallery, Brisbane.
- 2008, “Walking Together to Aid Aboriginal Health”, Shalom Gamarada Aboriginal Art Exhibition, University of NSW, Kensington, NSW.
- 2008, Gecko Gallery, Broome.
- 2007, “Desert Diversity”, Flinders Lane Gallery, Melbourne.
- 2007, “New Works from Utopia”, Space Gallery, Pittsburgh, USA.
- 2007, Red Rock Gallery, Beijing, China.
- 2007 (1997 - ), Permanent Exhibition, DACOU, Adelaide.
- 2007, “Standing on Ceremony”, Tandanya Cultural Institute, Adelaide.
- 2007, “Utopia Exhibition”, Robert Steele Gallery, New York, USA.
- 2007, Australian Embassy, Washington, USA.
- 2006, “Recent Paintings”, Gallery Savah, Sydney.
- 2006, “Utopia”, Flinders Lane Gallery, Melbourne.
- 2006, APS Bendi Lango Art Exhibition, Rio Tinto Offices, Melbourne.
- 2004, Mbantua Gallery (USA exhibition: Portland, Nashville, Knoxville, Hartford, Greenwich, Philadelphia and New York).
- 2004, Addison Road Gallery, Marrickville, NSW.
- 2003, Alison Kelly Gallery, Melbourne.
- 2003, Glen Eira City Council Gallery, Melbourne.
- 2003, “Barbara Weir/Emily Kngwarreye”, Westside Gallery, Marrickville, NSW.
- 2003, “Creative Collaboration”, Mbantua Gallery, Alice Springs.
- 2003, “Light over Utopia”, Japingka Gallery, Perth.
- 2003, “Contemporary Aboriginal Art Event”, Umpqua Bank, Portland, USA
- 2003, Travelling Exhibition of USA (Oregon, & Tennessee)
- 2002, “United – Mother and Daughter”, Alison Kelly Gallery, Melbourne.
- 2002, “The Utopia Six”, Flinders Land Gallery, Melbourne.
- 2002, “Generations”, Japingka Gallery, Perth.
- 2002, Mbantua Gallery, Alice Springs.
- 2002, Travelling Exhibition of USA (Nashville & Portland)
- 2002, New York.
- 2002, Japan (twice).
- 2002, Queen Victoria Building, Sydney.
- 2002, Knut Grothe Galeri, Charlottlenlund, Copenhagen, Denmark.
- 2001, “Out of Utopia”, Chapman Gallery, Canberra.
- 2001, Alison Kelly Gallery, Armadale, Victoria.
- 2001, Young Presidents Organisation University, Sydney in association with Mbantua Gallery, Alice Springs.
- 2001, “Painting Country”, Tandanya Cultural Institute, Adelaide.
- 2001, “Desert Colour, My Country”, Raintree Aboriginal Art Gallery, Darwin.
- 2001, “Women Artists of the Australian Desert”, Gallery 2021, Auckland, New Zealand.
- 2001, “Two women – Dreamings”, Dreamtime Gallery Santa Fe, New Mexico.
- 2001, Mbantua Gallery, Alice Springs.
- 2000, “An Affair to Remember”, ArtSauce, Singapore.
- 2000, “Gathering the Past”, Redback Art Gallery, Brisbane.
- 2000, “Artists of Utopia”, Tandanya, Adelaide.
- 2000, Gallery Savah, Sydney.
- 2000, Gordes, Vaucluse, France.
- 2000, Mbantua Gallery, Alice Springs.
- 2000, DACOU in association with AMP, AMP Building, Sydney.
- 2000, Mary Place Gallery, Sydney.
- 2000, “Women’s Business”, Chicago, USA.
- 1999, “Utopia”, BMG Art, Adelaide.
- 1999, “Bush Garden”, Japingka Gallery, Sydney.
- 1999, “Caring for Country”, Tandanya Cultural Institute, Adelaide.
- 1999, Flinders Land Gallery, Melbourne.
- 1999, (combined exhibition) Gallery Savah, Sydney
- 1999, North Shore Fine Art, Sydney.
- 1999, “DreamWorks”, Gallery Savah, Sydney.
- 1999, Mabantua Gallery, Alice Springs.
- 1998, 2001, Chapman Gallery, Canberra.
- 1998, Adelaide Festival Theatre, Adelaide (exhibited in Art Felchin, Zurich, Germany; Gallery Griffiouen, Belgium; Boomerang Gallery, Amsterdam’ Kunsdcentoim Aalst, Belgium; Kunsdcentoum Dendermonde, Belgium’ Frank Popko Gallery, Rees, Germany; Ebes Collection, Workum, The Netherlands)
- 1998, “Women Painters of the Desert” (combined exhibition), Fireworks Gallery, Brisbane.
- 1998, ART EXPO, New York in association with Mandurah LTD, New York, USA
- 1998, SCECGS Redlands, Sydney.
- 1998, 15th annual National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Art Award Exhibition.
- 1998, Flinders Lane, Gallery, Melbourne.
- 1997, Art Gallery of South Australia, Adelaide.
- 1997, Hogarth Galleries, Sydney.
- 1997, Sutton Gallery, Melbourne.
- 1997, Barry Stern Gallery, Sydney.
- 1997, “Dreaming’s of the Desert”, Quadrivium Gallery & DACOU Gallery for the Art Gallery of South Australia at Hogarth Gallery, Sydney.
- 1997, “Ten Years On”, Sutton Gallery, Melbourne.
- 1997, 14th annual National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Art Award Exhibition.
- 1996, 2002, Framed Gallery, Darwin.
- 1996, Gallery Woo Mang and Partners, Paris, France.
- 1996, 1997, 1998, 1999, Flinders Lane Gallery, Sydney.
- 1996, 1997, 1998, 1999, 2000, 2002, Quadrivium Gallery, Sydney.
- 1996, 1997, 1998, Fireworks Gallery, Brisbane.
- 1995, 1997, 2003, Dacou Gallery, Adelaide.
- 1995, Davis Avenue Gallery, Melbourne.
- 2000, Finalist, Redlands Westpac Art Prize, Mosman Art Gallery, NSW.
- 2000, Finalist, 17th annual National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Art Award (NATSIAA).
- 1998, Finalist, 15th annual National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Art Award (NATSIAA).
- 1997, Finalist, 14th annual National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Art Award (NATSIAA).