Born: Utopia, NT
COMMUN ITY: Utopia, NT
Dora Mbitjana is the youngest daughter of the late acclaimed artist, Minnie Pwerle. Her sisters are esteemed artists Barbara Weir and Betty Mbitjana.
Dora learnt her Dreamings from her mother and aunties and would collect bush tucker and participate in Awelye ceremonies. Awelye is the word used to describe the traditional body painting used in women's ceremonies, but it also has a broader meaning referring to the content of a ceremony and the associated body of knowledge.
Awelye makes connections with the fertility of the land and a celebration of the food it provides. It is performed by Aboriginal women from the Utopia region to recall their ancestors, to show respect for their Country and to demonstrate their responsibility for the wellbeing of their community.
Dora learnt to paint watching her mother and aunties transfer their Awelye, Bush Melon Dreaming and Body Painting motifs to paint and canvas in their own distinctive styles. Their work is distinguished by its vitality, boldness and innovation.
Dora's paintings are visual representations of her mother's country, Atnwengerrp, which is in the northern reaches of the remote Utopia region in the Northern Territory. The designs represent Atnwengerrp women's ceremonial body paint designs which have been handed down to her by her sister Betty.
Dora employs a bright, multicoloured palette which gives her artworks a lovely sense of joy. Occasionally there will be patterns of the seeds and the bush plums the women eat at the ceremony. Dora has fond memories of her mother and other women collecting these fruits, cutting them up into pieces, skewering them on a piece of wood and dry them to be eaten in times when bush tucker was scarce.
Dora currently lives in Alice Springs with her four living children and six grandchildren and returns to her homelands of Atnwengerrp with her family often. Dora's paintings have gained a strong following and we look forward to her developing her obvious talent.