Barbara Weir

Born:           c. 1945

People:      Anmatyerre

Language:  Anmatyerre

Area:            Utopia




Barbara Weir’s country is Utopia. Located in Central Australia some 1,800 square kilometres of  land,  which has grown to now become one of the most interesting art communities for female artists.

Born in 1945 at what was formerly known as Bundy River Station, the daughter of an Aboriginal mother and Irish father. Barbara was taken away from her family by the authorities at the tender age of nine. This was a common event for ‘half-caste children at the time and these people are now known as the stolen generation. She was raised by various foster families in Alice Springs, Adelaide and Darwin before returning to her traditional homelands with her six children  in the late sixties. Barbara was closely associated with the late Emily Kame Kngwarreye who was her active guardian before her pending separation from her family. Her paintings confirm this close relationship in that they reveal an influence by the late artist in terms of dot construction and linear composition.

Barbara Weir’s work on canvas began in the latter stages of the 1980’s, after experimenting with Batik’s. Most of Barbara’s work consists of radiating dotted lines that depict, in the abstract, women wearing body paint designs used for ceremonies. She uses close tonal values in different colours, creating a dynamic optical intensity. Her work features powerful structural linear patterns derived from body painting, fused with dots to create a pattern submerged into a sea of dots. Her recent work (1997) has changed significantly and relies on loose expressive delineation when portraying the Grass Seed, Wild Flower and Bush Berry Dreaming.

Her latest transition Grass Seed Dreaming and My Mothers country is proving to be a great success. These works are in great demand. Grass Seed  with its flowing line work of various colours depicting the various seasons in her country and My Mothers Country with its minute dotting layered over Ceremonial sites figures and land formation is impressing art collectors world wide.

She paints women’s ceremonies celebrating bush tucker and water Dreamings which ultimately ensures the continued survival of the community due to the strong links between health and fertility. As women are the custodians of bush tucker (gathering as opposed to hunting) they are responsible for dietary essentials such as fruits and vegetables.

Exhibitions include: 1996 Gallery Woo Mang and Partners, solo exhibition, Paris, France; 1997 Art Gallery of South Australia, Adelaide; 1998 ARTEXPO, New York, USA; 1998 exhibited extensively in Europe including: Switzerland, Belgium, The Netherlands, and Germany; 2000 AMP Building, Sydney; 2000 ‘Women’s Business’, Chicago, USA; 2001 Gnut Grothe Galerie, Charlottenlund, Copenhagen, Denmark; 2003 Glen Eira City Council Gallery, Melbourne.

Barbara’s work has gained critical acclaim in recent years and is held in many private and public collections including: Art Gallery of South Australia, Adelaide; Art Gallery of Queensland, Brisbane; Artbank, Sydney; Queensland College of Art Griffith University; Ebes Collection Workum, The Netherlands; University of Adelaide; AMP Collection; Jinta Desert Art Gallery Sydney; Aboriginal Art Galleries of Australia Melbourne;  and Aboriginal Desert Art Gallery, Alice Springs.