BETTY MBITJANA (Circa 1945 - Utopia)
Stretched and Ready to hang.
Betty Mbitjana is the daughter of renowned artist Minne Pwerle and the sister of artist Barbara Weir.
Betty's Awelye paintings depict the designs that the women would paint on their bodies, and the dancing tracks which are made in the sand during women's Awelye ceremony. Through their Awelye ceremonies, women pay homage to their ancestors, show respect for their country and dance out their collective maternal role within their community.
A design based on these dancing tracks is painted on women's bodies before a ceremony is performed, and this same design can be seen today in Betty's works on canvas and in the works of her mother, sisters, and aunts. Ochre, charcoal and ash are all used to paint designs on the women's upper bodies, and Pwerle women paint their chests, breasts and upper arms for Awelye in ochre, red and white. The designs they use have been passed down for many generations, and only the Pwerle or Kemarre owners can paint them.
The paintings are aerial views of women's ceremonies and depict the waterholes (often in sacred places) where they take place. Much of the work is taken up with pairs of striped breasts moving forward as the woman dances, giving a great sense of movement to the work. Occasionally there will be patterns of the seeds and the bush plums the women eat at the ceremony.
Betty’s paintings are recognized for their vibrant colour and dynamic composition.