Gracie Morton Pwerle


Gracie Morton Pwerle was born in approximately 1956 and is an Alyawarr woman from the Utopia region in Central Australia. She is the daughter of well known Utopian artist Myrtle Petyarre, who is the sister of famous and collectable artists Gloria and Kathleen Petyarre. There is a rich artistic tradition that run through Gracie’s family and also the Utopian community, not only Gracie’s aunties but also her sisters, Mary, Rita and Elizabeth are also artists.

I (Sabine Haider, Director of Central Art) have known Gracie for a long time and thoroughly enjoy her art and the stories that she shares about her Dreaming.

Gracie began painting in the 1980’s during the “A Summer Project”, where acrylic paints and canvas were introduced to the women of Utopia. Her artworks have been well received throughout Australia and overseas. Gracie is a senior traditional custodian of the Arnwekety (Bush Plum) Dreaming, in accordance with traditional law she is responsible for ensuring the Dreaming, customs and traditions associated with the Bush Plum. This responsibility was passed down to Gracie from her father and aunt.

The Bush Plum is a nutritious small fruit found in Central Australia, it has black seeds which are rich in Vitamin C. The fruit can be eaten straight from the bush or cooked. Growing through the winter months, when spring comes there is a great profusion of flowers and fruit, the women and children will go out and collect the Bush Plum. During this time the women will reaffirm their connection to the land.

Gracie’s primary depiction is Arnwekety, through her artwork she depicts the changing seasonal influences on the plant. With incredible finesse Gracie creates a wonderful lyricism in her artworks, causing a three-dimensional pull at the eye guiding the observer through the soft outward reaching fields of colour. Her delicate dotting style and colour variation depict the Bush Plum in an aerial perspective. She has a very minimalist style with an overall effect which leaves the canvas with a gentle and soft appearance.

Her artworks are represented in major private collections including the Robert Holmes a Court Collection and her artworks are exhibited regularly through various galleries in Australia. She has also been a part of international exhibitions in China, Germany, Italy and The Netherlands.

She is a second generation artist with enormous talent. I enjoy watching her style evolve and her confidence grow. Central Art has a wide collection of her beautiful artworks in an array of colours and sizes. Most are in natural dark colours as a base coat with a fine dotting overlay giving the paintings a soft and delicate feel.

This artwork refers to the Bush plum, known as Arnwekety. The composition of colour and shape variations points to the geography and intimate knowledge of locations. The fine dotted lines represent the tracks of the Aboriginal women. The Bush Plum is of significance to the region of Utopia in Central Australia and the people who are attached to the Dreaming. The women celebrate the Bush plum in their Awelye ceremonies, which includes body painting, many song lines and dance cycles to ensure its perpetual germination and to re-enact the ancestor spirits.

This native plant produces white flowers followed by berries. When ripened the berries turn from purple to black. These fruits are edible and taste sweet and is a favourite bush tucker for Aboriginal people. Arnwekety is also a food source for emus, bush turkeys and many native birds.