• Artwork:Barbara Weir Jewelley
  • Artist:Barbara Weir
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Barbara Weir Jewelleyby Barbara Weir

This gorgeous earring depicts Grass Seeds by the Aboriginal artist Barbara Weir from Utopia in central Australia. (There is also a pendant necklace to match the earring set)

Barbara paints the grass in all colours of its life cycle, from bright green after rain, the red of bush fires, and the grey and black after fires. The seeds of Merne Ntange Ulyawe were an important food source for the Aboriginal people of this region, often ground up and made into cakes and damper.

  • Artist:Barbara Weir
  • Title:Barbara Weir Jewelley
  • ID:BW031012
  • Medium:Aluminium
  • Size:5 cm
  • Region:Utopia, Central Australia

Artist

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.

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