Jeannie Mills Pwerle
Jeannie Mills Pwerle - Utopia Artist, paints Anaty Bush Yam design.
Jeannie Mills Pwerle Biography
Jeannie Mills Pwerle is a great painter from the Utopia region of the Northern Territory, north east of Alice Springs. Jeannie has her traditional country at Irrwelty and Atnwengerrp, and has been part of the main painting group for over 25 years.
Jeannie paints the Bush Yam, with the local name of Anaty (also sometimes called Pencil Yam). The Bush Yam is a long tuber a bit like a carrot, dug up on the Utopia homelands where it is highly valued as a traditional food source.
Jeannie Mills Pwerle was a contributing artist to the first Utopia project where women painted their stories onto canvas. This historic exhibition, held in 1989 and titled “Utopia Women’s Paintings, the First Works on Canvas, A Summer Project” was a turning point for the group of Utopia artists.
What is Jeannie’s connection to batik?
For a decade the Utopia artists had developed their skills in the realm of batik making, bringing their traditional stories and designs to decorate dyed textile fabrics. By developing the skills of layered colours built up on the fabric from lightest to darkest, the artists had a great facility which allowed them to bring new approaches to painting when they started working with acrylic on canvas.
The artists also used their skill of building up layers to create veils of colour through which the underlying colours could be seen. The stylistic inventions that came from this shared history by the artists was the beginning of a new creative burst of painting that established Utopia artists at the forefront of popular artistic success in the Aboriginal art sphere.
Jeannie Mills works with an abstract set of colours, refining her images over many, many years to creates a highly abstracted form of painting. Her works can incorporate hundreds of linear shapes representing Bush Yams that abound in colour, and with each shape outlined with a row of white dots.
The entire painting can be perceived as an abstract set of colours. These colours are what makes the composition and what creates the path for your eyes to travel around the canvas.
Multiple Colours On Each Mark
Each brushstroke created by Jeannie Mills Pwerle can have two or three colours on it. Every mark represents Anaty bush yam. In the hundreds of yams on a canvas, each one has multiple tones of colour. The total effect of the composition is that you have an amazing array of colours with a diversity of placement of tones.
A Full Spectrum in Resolved Composition
You would think it challenging for any artist to bring this all together in a single composition, but Jeannie’s work can achieve that. She creates a large canvas, in this case a 120 cm square painting, which appears to have every colour of the spectrum in there. Colours vary from very dark blues and purples, through to reds, oranges and yellows, pale greens, and even a greyish white.
Her abstract paintings are absolutely full of colour with every mark a blend of multiple colours. The whole canvas has to come together as a single image, one that works through the way blocks of colour appeal to our eye. Sometimes Jeannie limits her colour range as we see in some of her extraordinary blue paintings. While blue might be the dominant colour in it, still we see there are greens and yellows as minor keys in a painting that is overwhelmingly tonal. It draws you into the whole fabric of the surface of the painting, your eyes wandering over the canvas while moving from one area of tonality into another.
- National Gallery of Australia, Canberra
- Holmes à Court Collection, Perth
- Mbantua Gallery Private Collection, Alice Springs
- 1989 Utopia Women’s Paintings, the First Works on Canvas, A Summer Project
- 1990 Utopia – A Picture Story, an exhibition of 88 works on silk from the Holmes à Court
- 1993 Central Australian Aboriginal Art and Craft Exhibition, Araluen Centre, Alice Springs, NT
- 1995 Mbantua Gallery, Alice Springs, NT
- 2002 Art and Soul Gallery, Nashville, Tennessee, USA
- 2002 The Cove Gallery, Portland, Oregon USA (Benefit – OHSU Heart Research Centre)
- 2002 Urban Wine Works, Portland, Oregon USA (Benefit – OHSU Heart Research Centre)
- 2002 Mary’s Woods, Portland, Oregon USA (Benefit – OHSU Heart Research Centre)
- 2004 Last of the 20th Century, Mbantua Gallery, Alice Springs NT
- 2006 Colours of Utopia, Japingka Gallery, Fremantle WA
- 2008 Utopia Collection, Japingka Gallery, Fremantle WA
- 2009 Desert Miniatures, Japingka Gallery, Fremantle WA
- 2010 Summer Collection, Japingka Gallery, Fremantle WA
- 2012 Little Gems, Japingka Gallery, Fremantle WA
- 2014 Small Works Collection, Japingka Gallery, Fremantle WA
- 2015 Camel Camp & Beyond – Utopia Artists of the Eastern Desert, Japingka Gallery, Fremantle WA
- 2018 Painting on Country – Utopia Artists, Japingka Gallery, Fremantle WA
- 2021 Utopia Aboriginal Art, Japingka Gallery, Fremantle WA