Barbara Weir

Barbara Weir
1945 (Bundy River Station, Utopia)

Country: Utopia
Nationality: Australian
Language group: Anmatyerre


biography

Barbara Florence Weir was born around 1945 at what was formerly known as Bundy River Station in the region of Utopia, north east of Alice Springs (Australia); her mother was the late Minnie Pwerle (1920-2006), a renowned Utopia artist, and her father Irish cattle station owner Jack Weir. Barbara is a notable artist, whose work has been exhibited and collected by major institutions, as well as politician, being elected the first woman president of the Indigenous Urapunta Council in 1985.

Being of mixed heritage Barbara was hidden from welfare patrol from the age of two and raised by her aunt, the most famed female Aboriginal artist of all time, the late Emily Kame Kngwarreye (c. 1910-1996). At the age of nine, Barbara was taken away from her family by officials while collecting water at Utopia Station; under the Aborigines Protection Amending Act 1915, government or assigned officers were authorized in the territories to take half-caste children to be raised in British institutions to assimilate them to European culture. Therefore Barbara is one of the people known as the ‘stolen generation’, children who were removed from their families and put in foster homes. Though she lost contact with her family, she was determined to return to them, to show she was alive and reclaim her heritage.

In the late 1960’s Barbara was fortunate to find her family and returned to Utopia with her three children. Barbara fully mastered both the Anmatyerre and Alyawarr (Aboriginal) languages from scratch. Due to her unique relationship with Emily Kame, Barbara became interested in painting, and showed a rare talent for the art. In 1996, after the death of Emily, Barbara concentrated on developing her skills as an artist and soon attracted the attention of collectors, developing several styles with a contemporary appeal but still inspired by her cultural heritage.