Betty Mbitjana Aboriginal Art
Betty Mbitjana Aboriginal Art

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Betty Mbitjana / Awelye Atnwengerrp (Body Paint) (25A)

$160.00

30cm x 30cm Acrylic on Linen

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Born:          c.1954

Skin Name: Mbitjana / Mpetyane

Language:   Anmatyerre

Region:       Utopia

Betty is a member of one of the most renowned painting families in Australia.  Her mother was Minnie Pwerle (dcd 2006), her aunt was Emily Kngwarreye (dcd 1996), two of our most prominent artists.  One of Minnie’s seven children, including the International artist Barbara Weir, Betty has emerged as the artist to carry on the particular legacy of colour and design of her mother’s works, so avidly sought after by astute collectors.

The artists of Utopia are known for their clever and free use of colour and brave, bold designs, whilst still executing delicate imaging.  Betty’s aunts (Minnie’s sisters), Emily, Galya and Molly who are aged between 80 and 90 years, began painting with Minnie in 2004, and whilst each lady has their distinctive style, they produce artworks possessing an illusive magic hard to define, full of colour and movement and fluid execution so typical of the Utopian artists. 

Betty paints the Body Paint (Awleye) designs, coupled with the small roundels of bush melons and large roundels (soakages) made famous by her mother, but stamping the artworks as her own with flair and recognisable signature strong brush strokes.   

Betty resides in Alice Springs, and returns to homelands Atnwengerrp with her family often.  A quiet, traditional lady who continues to pay homage to her heritage by depicting the bush tucker, ceremonial body paint and water sources in her country. 

Along with her three elderly aunts and her sister Barbara, Betty will continue to delight collectors within Australia and worldwide with the unique art of Utopia, memorable for the amazing colour and flowing imagery. 

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The bold patterns throughout Betty’s painting illustrate women’s ceremonial body paint design. The large roundels depict the waterholes around which the women perform ceremony and the small circles are the bush melons, representing the bush tucker that they live on whilst the ceremonies are taking place, which often take up to week. The women apply the body paint designs onto their breasts, arms and thighs singing as each woman takes their turn to be ‘painted up’. Their songs relate to the dreaming stories of ancestral travel and other totemic plants, animals and natural forces. Awelye – women’s ceremony, demonstrates respect for the land. In performing these ceremonies they ensure well-being and happiness within their communities.

Though Betty enjoys using lots of different colours in her paintings, the traditional colours used during ceremony for her dreaming stories from Atnwengerrp country are red and white. Atnwengerrp lies in the heartland of Alyawarr country, about 200 kilometres to the north-east of Alice Springs.