The bold patterns throughout Charmaine’s paintings 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 Charmaine, like her famous Grandmother Minnie Pwerle (c. 1910 – 2006), enjoys using lots of vivid 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.
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Charmaine is a talented emerging artist in her thirties. She lives at Urrultja, approx. 400km NE of Alice Springs with her husband and four children.
Charmaine was born in Alice Springs but grew up on the Utopia homelands; she eventually went to school in Adelaide and also lived and worked in Melbourne.
Charmaine is a member of one of Australia’s most famous painting families. Her mother is senior artist Barbara Weir and her Grandmother, the inspiration for Charmaine’s paintings is the late Minnie Pwerle.
The large circular images in Chamaine’s paintings represent ceremonial sites, the linear design represents the tracks used when searching for food. The small circular design is the bush melon seed and the breast image depicts “Awelye” – ceremonial body-paint design.