Charmaine Pwerle grew up surrounded by incredible artist having the famous Minnie Pwerle as grandmother, and the equally talented Barbara Weir for her mother, it is not surprising that Charmaine Pwerle is bursting with talent. She is certainly one of the most promising of the younger generations of Indigenous artists, having been immersed in her culture and its artistic expression from an early age. She was surrounded by artists all her life, including such role models as her mother and grand mother, together with Emily Kame Kngwarreye and Gloria Petyarre. Charmaine's innate artistic sense inevitably blossomed.
Charmaine is definitely a family person: She lives in Alice Springs at present with her partner, her four daughters and one step-daughter. Her education has been varied to say the least, straddling the worlds of the remote outpost of Utopia (280 kms north east of Alice Springs) until she was seven years of age, and immediately following this, the urban environment of Adelaide, where she was sent to 'improve her education'. At the age of 10 she returned to Utopia School for a further year, before attending St. Phillips College in Alice Springs. Alice Springs high school was next on the agenda, and after this she returned to Utopia for a few years before moving back to Adelaide to study.
In 1992 Charmaine returned to Utopia and worked for Urapuntja Council as a junior administration assistant, while living with her mother Barbara Weir and grandparents Minnie Pwerle and Motorcar Jim at Soakge Bore - an outstation on what used to be Utopia Station. During the years she spent at Utopia, Charmaine's education extended to embrace her people's culture, performing in ceremonies, and learning the sacred stories passed on to her by her grandmothers. Charmaine's career path as an artist is yet to play out. Her early works are impressively executed and are rich with culture and expression, but it remains to be seen whether she will go on to fully develop her obvious talent. Her mother, Barbara Weir, is one of the most committed and productive of all indigenous artists, and if Charmaine follows in her mother's footsteps, she too could become one of the great Indigenous artists.
Dreamings: My Grandmother's Country: Minnie Pwerle, came from a region called Atnwengerrp at Utopia and it is this country that Charmaine depicts in her paintings. Charmaine's main inspirations are the Atnwengerrp area and Awelye (women's ceremonies and body paint).
Awelye: The women paint each other's breasts and upper bodies with ochre markings, before dancing in a ceremony. The body designs are important and, painted on chest and shoulders, they relate to each particular woman's dreaming. The ochre pigment is ground into powder form and mixed with charcoal and ash before being applied with a flat padded stick or with fingers in raw linear and curving patterns. The circles in these designs represent the sites and movement where the ceremonies take place.
Atnwengerrp Country: The lines in the painting depict the tracks that her people made as they trekked across the country in search of food and dry river beds. The large semi circular shapes represent the sandhills and valleys. The dark colour represents the path of a fire that has swept across the land.