Awelye (Body Paint)by June Bird Ngale
The painting depicts Awelye, body paint design. Aboriginal women anoint their upper body with oil and apply ochre markings before dancing their ceremony.
June Bird Ngale was born in c. 1954 at Waite River in the Northern Territory. Her parents are Tommy Bird Mpetyane (who sadly passed away whilst June was a young child) and Ada Bird Petyarre (1921-2010), who is one of the famed Seven Petyarre Sisters of Utopia. Ada Bird had six children. June developed a strong relationship with Lyndsay Bird Mpetyane, another well known Aboriginal artist from Utopia and she came to call him father.
June commenced painting in 1987 and was somewhat involved in the Utopian art movement where silk batiks were introduced to the women of Utopia and in 1988 another community project titled “A Summer Project”, introduced the women of Utopia to canvas and acrylic paints. June’s mother and aunties were all heavily involved in the project which saw their artist talent and designs flourish in these new mediums. June reported that all her family living at Mulga Bore at the time became involved in the projects and were painting and experimenting regularly.
The Dreamings that June has inherited originate from her mother’s side of the family. June has received the “Awelye” or women’s ceremonial body paint designs; these are regularly associated with Dreamings of the Mountain Devil Lizard (Arnkerreth) for the Atnungkerr and Alhalkerre country. This particular Dreaming is shared amongst the Petyarre sisters. Throughout her painting career June has depicted several Dreaming stories which are significant to her country these include, Arnkerreth, Engcarma, Unyara, Annlara, Kadjeta, Elaitchurunga and Awelye.
I (Sabine Haider, Director, Central Art) have had the privilege of representing June Petyarre , through the special bond I had with her mother, Ada. June reminds me very much of Ada, polite, friendly and her stories are very important to her. June lives on her community and sets an example to younger women on traditional life and culture. All the Petyarre women are artists in their own right, and June Bird Petyarre has painted alongside some amazing, talented and well known artists.
June has been involved in several exhibitions around Australia with several different galleries. Her peripheral involvement in the silk batik movement ensured that her designs are included in the Robert Holmes a Court Collection.
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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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