Barbara Weir

About the Artist

Barbara Weir

Born: c. 1945
Anmatyerre and Alywarr

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Barbara Florence Weir was born in 1945 at what was formerly known as Bundy River Station in the region of Utopia, North East of Alice Springs.  Her mother was the late Minnie Pwerle, renowned Utopia and Australian artist, and her father, an Irish station owner Jack Weir.  Being of mixed heritage Barbara was hidden from welfare patrol from the age of two and ‘grown up’ by her Aunty, the most famed female Aboriginal artist of all time, the late Emily Kame Kngwarreye.

At the age of nine Barbara was taken away from her family by welfare while collecting water at Utopia Station, now known as Utopia Homestead. She is one of the people known as the “stolen generation”.

Barbara was taken to Bungalow (now known as the Telegraph Station) to get cleaned up, and then taken to St Mary’s Home in Alice Springs. She was later moved to various children’s homes around Australia, first in Victoria, followed by the Receiving Home in Darwin and the Good Shepherds Home in Ipswich, before eventually returning to Darwin. During these years she was forced to speak English and forget her native tongue, and was told that her mother was dead. Though she lost contact with her family she was determined to return to them, to show she was alive and to reclaim her heritage.

 In the late 1960’s Barbara was fortunate to find her family and returned to Utopia, the land of her birth, with her three children. The reunion was a happy one, but it was marred by the fact that Barbara was unable to communicate with the family, as she did not speak the language. Over the course of the next two and a half decades, Barbara had three more children and mastered both the Anmatyerre and Alyawarr languages and is one of the few people to do so from scratch.

On returning to her home and her unique relationship with Emily Kame Kngwarreye (who was then a well known batik artist) Barbara became interested in painting, and showed a flair and talent for the art. In 1994, Barbara and other Aboriginal women traveled to Indonesia to learn more about the art of batik. The Utopia women were well known for their beautiful batiks as this contributed to the Aboriginal community buying back the region of Utopia in 1974, and making it their own.

Barbara returned from Indonesia full of ideas for developing her own creative style. In 1996 Barbara travelled to Switzerland and Paris at the request of a gallery owner who commissioned some of Barbara’s work. The collection was a sellout and ensured Barbara’s place as a respected artist.

In 1996, after the death of Emily Kame Kngwarreye, Barbara concentrated on developing her skill as an artist and soon attracted the attention of collectors by producing works that were contemporary in style, including her now famed Grass Seed paintings.

Inspired by a small grass found in Utopia called Lyaw, Munyeroo or Pigsweed, Barbara's Grass Seed paintings consist of a series of small brush strokes that overlap and weave to create a swaying effect. It is an energetic style exclusive to Barbara.

‘My Mother’s Country’, another renowned style of Barbara's, is a series of works testament to her skill as an artist. Completely different to the Grass Seed, these works are an intricate formation of dot work, with various background shapes representing different aspects of the country. This background can be very subtle or quite dramatic in appearance depending on the main theme but this series of works illustrates Barbara’s knowledge and respect for her country. Barbara's limited Countryside paintings depict similar subjects with subtle differences in colour and dot work.

In 2002, Barbara moved back to Central Australia. Keen to experiment with new designs and recreate masterpieces of the past, Barbara has all the resources at her fingertips thus allowing her creativity to fully reveal and develop into stunning works.



AMP Collection

The Art Gallery of South Australia, SA

Ebes Collection, Workum, Netherlands

The Mbantua Gallery Collection, NT

Queensland College of Art, Griffith University, QLD

The University of Adelaide, SA



1995   January - Combined exhibition at DACOU Gallery, Adelaide

1995   August - Combined exhibition at Davis Avenue Gallery,Melbourne

1996   February - Combined exhibition at Framed Gallery,Darwin

1996   May - Combined exhibition at Gallery Woo Mang & Partners,Paris,France

1996   July - Combined exhibition at Flinders Lane Galley, Melbourne

1996   August -  Combined exhibition at Quadrivium Gallery, Sydney

1996   November - Solo exhibition at Fireworks Gallery, Brisbane

1997   January -  Combined exhibition at Quadrivium Gallery Sydney Combined exhibition at DACOU Gallery Adelaide Participation in “Dreamings of the Desert” in Residence program for the Art Gallery of South Australia Combined exhibition at Hogarth Gallery in Sydney

1997   March - Solo exhibition at DACOU Gallery Adelaide Combined exhibition –Flinders Lane Gallery Melbourne

1997   June - Combined exhibition “Ten Years On” Sutton Gallery Melbourne

1997   July - Combined exhibition, Quadrivium Gallery Sydney

1997   August -  Selected entrant in 14th National Aboriginal & Torres Strait Islander Art Award for 1997

1998   February - Combined exhibition, “Women Painters of the Desert” FireWorks Gallery Brisbane

1998   March - ARTEXPO New York in association with Mandurah Ltd, New York

1998   May -  Combined exhibition “Utopia IV” Quadrivium Gallery, Sydney Solo exhibition, Chapman Gallery, Canberra

1998   June - Combined exhibition – SCECGS Redlands –Sydney

1998   August - Selected entrant for the 15th National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Art Award for 1998

1998   September - Combined exhibition, Flinders Lane Gallery, Melbourne

1998   December - Combined exhibition in The Adelaide Festival Theatre Exhibited extensively in Europe including: Art Felchlin – Zurich, Gallery Griffiouen, Belgium, Boomerang Gallery, Amsterdam, Kunsdcentoum Aalst, Belgium, Kunsdcentoum Dendermonde – Belgium, Frank Popko Gallery – Rees, Germany, Ebes Collection – Workum, Netherlands

1999   February - Combined exhibition – ‘Utopia’ – BMG Art Adelaide

1999   March - Combined exhibition “Bush Garden” Japingka Gallery Sydney

1999   May - Combined exhibition Utopia V – Quadrivium Gallery Sydney

1999   June - Combined exhibition – “Caring For Country” Tandanya Cultural Institute – Adelaide

1999   August - Solo Exhibition – Flinders Lane Gallery, Melbourne

1999   August - Combined exhibition – Gallery Savah – Sydney Barbara Weir Profile

1999   September - Combined exhibition – North Shore Fine Art – Sydney

1999   November - Solo exhibition ‘DreamWorks’ Gallery Savah – Sydney

1999   November - Solo exhibition Mbantua Gallery, Alice Springs, NT.

2000   February - Combined exhibition “An Affair to Remember” ArtSauce – Singapore

2000   March  - Solo exhibition – “Gathering the Past” Redback Art Gallery Brisbane

2000   March  - Combined Exhibition – “Artists of Utopia”, Tandanya, S.A

2000   April - Solo exhibition Gallery Savah, Sydney

2000   May - Solo exhibition, Mbantua Gallery

2000   June - Combined exhibition, Gordes, Vaucluse, France

2000   September - DACOU in association with AMP an official sponsor of the Sydney 2000   Olympic Games, hosted an exhibition of mixed Utopia art in the AMP building Sydney

2000   September - Combined exhibition at Mary Place Gallery, Sydney

2000   November - Selected entrant for the Redlands Westpac Art Prize Mosman Art Gallery, NSW

2000   November - ‘Women’s Business’, Australian Exhibition Centre Chicago. U.S.A

2001   February - Combined exhibition “Out of Utopia” Chapman Gallery Canberra

2001   February - Combined exhibition –Alison Kelly Gallery, Armadale, Victoria

2001   February - Selected artist to be included in the prestigious Young Presidents Organization University, Westin Hotel, Pitt Street, Sydney in association with Mbantua Gallery, Alice Springs

2001   May - ‘Painting Country’ – combined exhibition at Tandanya Cultural Institute, Adelaide, SA

2001   May - ‘Desert Colour, My Country’ – combined exhibition Raintree Aboriginal Art Gallery, Darwin, NT

2001   May - ‘Women Artists of the Australian Desert’ – combined exhibition at Gallery 2021, Auckland, New Zealand

2001   June - ‘Two women – Dreamings’ Dreamtime Gallery Santa Fe, New Mexico, USA – exhibited with Gloria Petyarre.

2001   September - Solo exhibition, Mbantua Gallery, Alice Springs

2002   Jan/Feb - ‘The Utopia Six’, Flinders Lane Gallery, Melbourne

2002   July - ‘Generations’ Japingka Gallery WA

2002   August - Mbantua Gallery, Alice Springs

2002   Denmark, Paris and other areas in France.

2002   Exhibited twice in Japan

2002   Queen Victoria Building, Sydney

2002   New York with her mother, Minnie Pwerle’s work

2002   ‘United – Mother and Daughter’, Alison Kelly Gallery, Melbourne

2002   September - Art and Soul Gallery, Nashville, TN, USA

2002   October -  'The Cove Gallery' Portland, Oregon USA

2002   October - Mary’s Wood, Portland, OR, USA

2002   October - Urban Wine Works, Portland, OR, USA

2003   March - Light Over Utopia, Japingka Gallery, Fremantle, WA

2003   June/July - Creative Collaboration Mbantua Gallery, Alice Springs NT

2003   June - Barbara Weir/Emily Kngwarreye, Westside Gallery, Marrickville, NSW

2003   September - New City Merchants, Knoxville, Tennessee USA

2003   September - Art and Soul Gallery, Nashville, Tennessee USA

2003   September - 'The Cove Gallery' Portland, Oregon USA

2003   October - Contemporary Aboriginal Art Event, Umpqua Bank, Portland, Oregon USA

2004   July – August - Addison Road Gallery, Marrickville, NSW

2004   Aug-Sep - Mbantua Gallery USA exhibition: Portland, Nashville, Knoxville, Hartford, Greenwich, Philadelphia and New York

2005  February - Barbara Weir and Daughter, Mbantua Gallery, Alice Springs, N.T

2005   2nd March  - Invitational Private Exhibition at Madigans Restaurant, Alice Springs with Mbantua Gallery to meet with HRH Prince of Wales

2005  March - Barbara Weir, Addison Road Gallery, Marrickville, NSW

2005   May-June - Small Wonders(A collection of 1’x1’ and 1’x1½’ paintings), Mbantua Gallery, Alice Springs, N.T

2004   Evolution of Utopia, Cultural Museum, Mbantua Gallery, Alice Springs

2007   January - Group exhibition, Robert Steele Gallery, NY, USA

2007  February - Standing on Ceremony, Tandanya Cultural Institute, Adelaide, SA

2007   October - Solo exhibition, Blowing in the Wind, Artmob, Hobart, Tas

2007  October - New Works from Utopia, Space Gallery, Pittsburg, PA, USA

2008  June - Dreamings – the Land, Outback Aboriginal Land, Caulfield, Vic

Further References

Discovery Media: June 2000 – Utopia Revisited - Film following Barbara Weir’s rediscovery of her family.

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