Molly Pwerle’s country is Atnwengerrp and her language is Anmatyerre and Alyawarr.  She is approximately 102 years old this year having been born possibly in 1919 (no records exist). and has had little exposure to western culture. In fact, Molly picked up a paintbrush for the first time in 2004.

She is the oldest female in the community, a respected elder and ‘boss woman’ with many responsibilities, including being the final decision maker over Women’s issues in Atnwengerrp. Many of Molly’s extended family are artists, including her famous sister the late Minnie Pwerle and niece Barbara Weir, who encouraged Molly and her younger sisters Galya and Emily Pwerle to paint with Minnie. In late 2004, Barbara organized the Pwerle sisters’ first painting workshop at Irrultja. It was an amazing experience for all who were there.


Just as Minnie showed glorious freedom of expression with her first brush strokes of acrylic paint on canvas in 1999, Molly, Emily and Galya had an immediate and positive response to painting on canvas. The inaugural workshop heralded new possibilities for each of them, and they have been enthusiastic about developing new visual expressions of their Bush Melon Dreaming. Minnie took a close and supportive role in her younger sisters’ development as artists.

Molly and her sisters know intimately every aspect of the bush melon, passed down to them in Dreamtime stories and songs by ancestors who conveyed where, when and how to collect the small green fruit, and the women’s ceremonies and body painting for it. Utopia women used to collect this fruit in the summer and scrape out the small black seeds. They would eat the fruit or cut it into pieces, skewering them onto a thin piece of wood to dry for the coming months when bush tucker was scarce. Sadly it is now difficult to find due to over-grazing.

During Awelye ceremonies at Atnwengerrp, the Pwerle sisters pay homage to their Bush Melon Dreaming through singing, dancing and ‘painting up’ their bodies with ochres in distinctive linear patterns. When painting on canvas, Molly frequently uses acrylic colours resembling the ochre pigments the women collect for body painting: yellow, red, brown and creamy white, and black for the colour of her skin.

Like her sisters, Molly paints ‘Awelye Atnwengerrp’ but in her own exciting and individual style. The women’s ‘Awelye’ ceremonial body painting patterns come to life in her remarkable variations of straight and interweaving lines on her canvases. Her use of paint is sensuous and her gestures bold. Using subtle colour harmonies and mesmerising rhythms she creates sophisticated and exciting paintings that have proven very popular amongst art lovers.


Molly is still currently living within the Atnwengerrp community with her two sisters Emily and Galya Pwerle and many extended family members and still enjoying painting.



2020     Pwerle Gallery x Tandanya National Aboriginal Cultural Institute  ‘Atnwengerrp – Our Apmere, Our Place’ in celebration of Tandanya’s 30th year anniversary, Adelaide.

2018     Mercedes Me x Pwerle Gallery Art Exhibition at Mercedes Me Melbourne.

2018     Pwerle Gallery ‘Utopia exhibition of four generations’, Adelaide.

2010   ‘The Pwerle Sisters’, DACOU Australia & DACOU Melbourne, Port Melbourne & Middle Park, VIC.

2010   ‘UTOPIA’, group exhibition, DACOU Melbourne, Middle Park, VIC.

 Gallery Savah, Utopia group exhibition, Paddington, NSW.

2009   ‘Utopia – Colors of the Desert’, Gongpyeong Art Space in conjunction with DACOU, Australian Embassy in Korea & Crossbay Gallery, Seoul, Korea.

2008  ‘Walking Together to Aid Aboriginal Health’, Shalom Gamarada Aboriginal Art Exhibition, University of NSW, Kensington, NSW.

2008   ‘Women’s Stories’, group exhibition, Alison Kelly Gallery, Richmond, VIC.

2008   ‘Walking Together to Aid Aboriginal Health’, Shalom Gamarada Aboriginal Art Exhibition, University of NSW, Kensington, NSW.

2008   ‘Utopia Discoveries’, Flinders Lane Gallery, Melbourne, VIC.

2008    ‘EWB Elements’, travelling group exhibition, all major cities of Australia, Dreamtime Art in conjunction with DACOU.

2007   ‘New Works from Utopia’, Space Gallery, Pittsburgh, USA.

2007    APS Bendi Lango Art Exhibition with Rio Tinto, Fireworks Gallery, Brisbane, QLD.

2007   ‘Treasures of the Spirit’, Tandanya Cultural Institute, Adelaide, SA.

2007   DACOU Adelaide, permanent exhibition, Port Adelaide, SA.

2007   ‘Standing on Ceremony’, Tandanya Cultural Institute, Adelaide, SA.

2007   ‘Utopia in New York’, Robert Steele Gallery, New York, USA.

2007   ‘Shalom’, group exhibition, University of NSW, Shalom Department, Kensington, NSW.

2007   ‘Desert Diversity’, Flinders Lane Gallery, Melbourne, VIC. Australian Embassy, group exhibition, Washington, USA.

06/07   Fireworks Gallery, group exhibition, Brisbane, QLD.

2006   APS Bendi Lango Art Exhibition, group exhibition, Rio Tinto Offices, Melbourne, VIC.

2006    ‘The Pwerle Sisters’, group exhibition, Flinders Lane Gallery, Melbourne, VIC.

2005    DACOU Australia, permanent exhibition and collection, Rosewater, SA.

2005    Mbantua Gallery, group exhibition, Alice Springs, NT.

2005    Gallery Savah, group exhibition, Sydney, NSW.

Copyright to this biography and imagery belongs to Pwerle Gallery.

See below some of her beautiful pieces for sale: