• Artwork:Awelye & Bush Melon
  • Artist:Betty Mbitjana
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Awelye & Bush Melonby Betty Mbitjana

This beauitful card features an artwork where Aboriginal iconography tells a story. The lines represent Awelye. The large concentric circles represent the ceremonial sites. The small circles depicted refer to the bush melon fruit, which once grew plentiful, but now days difficult to find. The Aboriginal women gathered the fruit, either to be eaten or dried, when bush tucker became scarce.

Please view Betty Mbitjana's beauitful paintings.

  • Artist:Betty Mbitjana
  • Title:Awelye & Bush Melon
  • ID:BNGC003
  • Medium:Blank card
  • Size:7 x 5 cm
  • Region:Utopia, Central Australia


I (Sabine Haider, Director Central Art) have had a fabulous working relationship with Betty Mbitjana for several years now. I first met Betty back in 2007 and over the years have had the pleasure of watching her grow into a self-assured and strong artist.

Betty comes from a family group and community which has produced some of the most famous and influential Aboriginal artists. Born in the 1950’s and from the Utopia region in Central Australia, Betty is the daughter of famous artist Minnie Pwerle. Her aunt’s include Emily Pwerle, Emily Kame Kngwarreye, Molly and Gayla Pwerle. Her sister is Barbara Weir; her cousins include Gloria and Kathleen Petyarre. Betty was married to Paddy Club who was the son of Lena Pwerle however sadly he passed away in 2012. Utopia is renowned for its strong, talented and artistic female artists and Betty sits comfortably among her family in terms of her artistic ability.

Betty credits her mother with introducing her to the world of modern art. She observed Minnie learning to paint and as she became more well-known Betty decided to take up art.  Sadly, Minnie Pwerle passed away in 2006. Betty lives between Alice Springs and her traditional homelands of Atnwengerrp with her family.

Through her art, Betty pays homage to her heritage, cultural knowledge and connection to her country. Her style is similar to that of her mother’s; however Betty puts her own unique touch into the ancient and traditional stories depicted in her works. When comparing mother and daughter you are able to clearly see the differences in brush stroke, texture and movement of the art.

The paintings are distinctive and full of colour and movement with the key story being Bush Melon and Awelye ceremonies. The Awelye designs reflect the body pain designs which are painted onto women during ceremonies. Ochre, charcoal and ash are all used to paint these designs on the women’s upper bodies including the chest, breasts and upper arms. These designs have been passed down for many generations with only the Pwerle or Kemarre skin having custodianship. The design which is painted onto the women is based on dancing tracks which are made during the travels of the women carrying out ceremonial duties. The actual ceremony is an opportunity for women to pay homage to their ancestors and show respect for their country. These ancient designs are seen today in Betty’s works on canvas and in the works of other Utopian women with these cultural responsibilities.

The Bush Melon is depicted as small roundels whilst the larger ones reflect water soakages, women would often collect these fruits and cut them into pieces and onto skewers to dry and be eaten later when food was scarce. Each of Betty’s artworks shows us the important and sacred cultural responsibilities of the Utopian women.

Betty is in the prime of her career and her artworks are very affordable and appeal to a wide section clients. I highly recommend Betty’s artworks to anyone who falls in love with their beautiful colours, and vibrant and bold brush strokes.  As Betty’s works are very similar to that of her mother I often recommend her paintings if Minnie Pwerle’s artworks are out of client’s price range. Betty is also very versatile in that she paints small canvases as well as very large ones, so you could put three or four small pieces together to create a triptych or one large eye catching centre piece.

Central Art included Betty in a 2008 exhibition titled “Self Representing Artists” and her artworks have sold extremely well over several years.

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