Charmaine Pwerle

Charmaine Pwerle

Date of Birth: 1975

Region: Utopia, NT

Language: Anmatyerr / Alyawarr

With the famous Minnie Pwerle as grandmother, and the equally talented Barbara Weir for her mother, it is not surprising that Charmaine Pwerle is bursting with artistic talent. She is certainly one of the most promising of the younger generations of Indigenous artists, having been immersed in her culture and its artistic expression from an early age.

She was surrounded by artists all her life, including such role models as her mother and grand mother, together with Emily Kame Kngwarreye and Gloria Petyarre. Charmaine's innate artistic sense inevitably blossomed.

Pwerle approaches the canvas with much more than the usual degree of confidence. Her lines are bold and sure, echoing those of her grandmother Minnie Pwerle, but with the assurance of a much more practised artist than her years or experience would suggest. The brushwork in her body designs, Awelye, has all the characteristics of this family dreaming, but Charmaine lends her own distinct creative flair, pattern and movement to the canvas.

Charmaine is definitely a family person. She lives in Alice Springs at present with her partner, her four daughters and one step-daughter. Her education has been varied to say the least, straddling the worlds of the remote outpost of Utopia (280 kms north east of Alice Springs) until she was seven years of age, and immediately following this, the urban environment of Adelaide, where she was sent to 'improve her education'. 

At the age of 10 she returned to Utopia School for a further year, before attending St. Phillips College in Alice Springs. Alice Springs high school was next on the agenda, and after this she returned to Utopia for a few years before moving back to Adelaide again to study. 

In 1992 Charmaine returned to Utopia and worked for Urapuntja Council as a junior administration assistant, while living with her mother Barbara Weir and grandparents Minnie Pwerle and Motorcar Jim at Soakage Bore - an outstation on what used to be Utopia Station.
During the years she spent at Utopia, Charmaine's education extended to embrace her people's culture, performing in ceremonies, and learning the sacred stories passed on to her by her grandmothers.

Charmaine's career path as an artist is yet to play out. Her early works are impressively executed and are rich with culture and expression, but it remains to be seen whether she will go on to fully develop her obvious talent.

Her mother, Barbara Weir, is one of the most committed and productive of all indigenous artists, and if Charmaine follows in her mother's footsteps, she too could become one of the great Indigenous artists.