Barbara Weir was born about 1945 at Bundy River Station, a cattle station in the Utopia region of the Northern Territory. Her parents were Minnie Pwerle, one of Utopia’s most well known and respected Aboriginal women artists, and Jack Weir, a married Irish man, their relationship was illegal, and the two were jailed. Jack Weir died not long after his release from jail.
Barbara Weir was partly raised by Pwerle’s sister-in-law Emily Kngwarreye in Utopia. She grew up in the area until about age nine, where as a victim of the stolen generation, Barbara was taken from her family as a young child and assimilated into white society.
It was not until the 1960‘s that Barbara returned to her homeland of Utopia and was taken under the wing of Emily Kame Kngwarreye, arguably the most famous and sought after female Aboriginal artist. The bond between mentor and student was so strong that Barbara referred to Emily as ‘Aunty Emily.‘
Undoubtedly it was this relationship that has influenced her painting style as much as her experience as a member of the Stolen Generation. The potent fusion of traditional Aboriginal spirituality and modern white culture characterises her work.
BARBARA‘S WORK HAS SEEN HER REACH WIDE ACCLAIM IN AUSTRALIA AND INTERNATIONALLY
Barbara became active in the local land rights movement of the 1970s and was elected the first woman president of the Indigenous Urapunta Council in 1985. She did not begin painting until 1989 at about age 45. She also has managed her mother, Aboriginal artist, Minnie Pwerle, (deceased) as her work became popular and in demand by collectors.
In 1994, she was one of a group of ten Utopia women who travelled to study batik in Indonesia. Her paintings are inspired by deep Aboriginal traditions