Collection: Jeannie Mills Pwerle

Born: 1965
Region: Utopia, NT
Language: Alyawarre

Jeannie Mills Pwerle is an established and highly respected artist from the Utopia region of the Northern Territory. She was born on the 15th of May 1965 and is an Alyawarre woman. Jeannie is the daughter of acclaimed artist Dolly Mills , the niece of senior elder Greeny Purvis and great aunt is the late Emily Kame Kngwarreye, dubbed by art experts as one of the world’s best modern and abstract artists. It is quite evident that through these influences, Jeannie began to paint and bring her own dynamic style to the world of Aboriginal Art.

Raised by a generation of indigenous artists who were part of the batik producing generation of the 1970s, Jeannie was exposed to the success that these artists experienced as they began to experiment with acrylic on canvas. Jeannie inherited the Yam Dreaming from her mother, however as an artist, she has depicted this dreaming in a unique style which is all her own.

She is well recognised for her style in which she paints Anaty (desert yam or bush potato) story. Her work has been exhibited around Australia since 2004, and in 2008 her large Anaty painting was accepted in the 2008 NATSIAA, the most prestigious Aboriginal art award in Australia.

Jeannie Mills Pwerle lives in a remote bush land area of Utopia, 300 kilometers north east of Alice Springs with a small family group of Aboriginal people. Jeannie’s subject matter is the flower and seeds of the Anaty (Bush Yam, or potato). Using a variety of colours in each brush stroke, she builds up a pattern of harmonious (and occasionally contrasting) colours embedded in (or defined by) a multitude of fine white dots, usually executed with intricate detail.

Jeannie’s Dreamings are centred on the seeds and blossom of the desert yam and on associated women’s ceremony. Although the Bush Yam Dreaming is shared by several other Utopian artists, including the prominent artist Emily Kame Kngwarreye, Jeannie’s works are unique to her and immediately recognisable. Her works and the variegated colour tones within them, make fascinating pieces in the home, because their colours subtly change, deepen or brighten with every nuance of the ambient light. They make excellent choices for interior design enthusiasts.

The yam is a staple part of the bush tucker diet of many indigenous people from the Central Desert region. It has an impressive root system, spreading up to twelve meters from the stalk, and is commonly found in woodland areas nearby a water source. Its bright green leaves and yellow flowers, can spread over quite a wide area, growing strongly until after the rainfall months when it is harvested by digging it out of the ground.

By depicting the Yam Dreaming in their paintings, indigenous artists are able to pay homage to this significant plant and encourage its continual rejuvenation.

In 2008, Jeannie was one of the finalists in the important 25th Telstra Award for Aboriginal Art with her entry Anaty – Bush Yam.

Jeannie is a successful mid-range artist whose works are included in many private collections in Australia and overseas.