Betty Mbitjana

Betty Mbitjana

Known also as: Mbitjana/Mpetyane

Date of Birth: c. 1945

Region: Utopia NT

Language: Anmatyerre

Betty Mbitjana is the daughter of renowned artist Minnie Pwerle and the sister of Barbara Weir. Her husband was Lena Pwerle’s son, Paddy Club, who sadly passed away on 2012.

Betty paints the Awelye, Bush Berry and Bush Plum Dreaming. Her mother and other women used to collect these fruits, cut them up into pieces, skewer them on a piece of wood and dry them to be eaten in the off season times.

Betty paints ceremonial art that the women would paint on their bodies, depicting tracks, which are made in sand during women’s ceremonies. Their Awelye ceremonies pay homage to their ancestors and show respect for their country and maternal roles in their community. Her mother, sisters, nieces and aunts all paint in this style. The Pwerle women paint their chests, breast and upper arms for ceremonies in ochre, white and red. Much of the work is taken up with pairs of breasts moving forward as the women dance, 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 ceremonies. The designs they use have been passed down from generation to generation, and only the Pwerle or Kemarre women owners can paint them. Betty’s sister is Barbara Weir and her daughter Charmaine Pwerle also paints in this style.


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