Barbara Weir Indigenous Australian, b. 1945-


Born: Bundy River Station, NT

Language Group: Anmatyerre/Alyawarre

Community: Utopia, NT


Barbara Weir was born in 1945 at Bundy River Station in the region of Utopia, north east of Alice Springs; her mother the late Minnie Pwerle, renowned Utopia and Australian artist, and her father an Irish station owner Jack Weir.


Her Idyllic childhood was disrupted when at the age of ten Barbara was suddenly taken away from her family, as she was collecting water. She is one of the people known as the 'stolen generation'.

Barbara married Mervyn Torres and in 1969 they moved to the remote community of Papunya, where Mervyn was a field officer. Little did they know they were about to witness the birth of the Aboriginal Art Movement, when the Papunya men began painting their stories for an external art market.


In 1977, Barbara returned to the land of her birth with her three children for good. On returning to her home, she rekindled her special relationship with Emily Kame Kngwarreye, who was a famous batik artist by then. The Utopia women were all well-known for their beautiful batiks, the proceeds from which contributed to the Aboriginal community buying back the region of Utopia in 1974. Barbara Weir was active in the local land rights movement during the 1970s and worked towards gaining Country. At the same time, Barbara became interested in batik and showed a flair and talent for it. After witnessing the events that took place in Papunya, Barbara made the natural transition to painting in 1988, which coincided with a project from CAAMA shop which introduced the Utopia Batik Group to painting on canvas with acrylic paints. Early works by Barbara reveal how she experimented with colour and style to tell her stories linked to her culture. In some instances, earthier tones, overt iconography and dot work float above a black background, while in other paintings there are linear motifs of body paint designs that echo the artworks of Barbara's aunt, fellow esteemed artist Ada Bird.


In 1996, after the death of Emily Kame Kngwarreye, Barbara concentrated on developing her skills as an artist. She soon attracted interest from collectors by producing works that were contemporary in style, including her now renowned 'Grass Seed' and 'Mother's Country' paintings.


Barbara has travelled widely and has been to America, Europe and Asia to paint and exhibit her work. She has also been honored by recognition by many art awards, including being a multiple finalist in the Peak Indigenous Awards, the Telstra NATSIAA and in the recent 2018 Paddington Art Prize.




AMP Collection

The Art Gallery of South Australia, SA

Ebes Collection, Workum, Netherlands

The Mbantua Gallery Collection, NT

Queensland College of Art, Griffith University, QLD

The University of Adelaide, SA


1995   January - Combined exhibition at DACOU Gallery, Adelaide

1995   August - Combined exhibition at Davis Avenue Gallery,Melbourne

1996   February - Combined exhibition at Framed Gallery,Darwin

1996   May - Combined exhibition at Gallery Woo Mang & Partners,Paris,France

1996   July - Combined exhibition at Flinders Lane Galley, Melbourne

1996   August -  Combined exhibition at Quadrivium Gallery, Sydney

1996   November - Solo exhibition at Fireworks Gallery, Brisbane

1997   January -  Combined exhibition at Quadrivium Gallery Sydney Combined exhibition at DACOU Gallery Adelaide Participation in “Dreamings of the Desert” in Residence program for the Art Gallery of South Australia Combined exhibition at Hogarth Gallery in Sydney

1997   March - Solo exhibition at DACOU Gallery Adelaide Combined exhibition –Flinders Lane Gallery Melbourne

1997   June - Combined exhibition “Ten Years On” Sutton Gallery Melbourne

1997   July - Combined exhibition, Quadrivium Gallery Sydney

1997   August -  Selected entrant in 14th National Aboriginal & Torres Strait Islander Art Award for 1997

1998   February - Combined exhibition, “Women Painters of the Desert” FireWorks Gallery Brisbane

1998   March - ARTEXPO New York in association with Mandurah Ltd, New York

1998   May -  Combined exhibition “Utopia IV” Quadrivium Gallery, Sydney Solo exhibition, Chapman Gallery, Canberra

1998   June - Combined exhibition – SCECGS Redlands –Sydney

1998   August - Selected entrant for the 15th National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Art Award for 1998

1998   September - Combined exhibition, Flinders Lane Gallery, Melbourne

1998   December - Combined exhibition in The Adelaide Festival Theatre Exhibited extensively in Europe including: Art Felchlin – Zurich, Gallery Griffiouen, Belgium, Boomerang Gallery, Amsterdam, Kunsdcentoum Aalst, Belgium, Kunsdcentoum Dendermonde – Belgium, Frank Popko Gallery – Rees, Germany, Ebes Collection – Workum, Netherlands

1999   February - Combined exhibition – ‘Utopia’ – BMG Art Adelaide

1999   March - Combined exhibition “Bush Garden” Japingka Gallery Sydney

1999   May - Combined exhibition Utopia V – Quadrivium Gallery Sydney

1999   June - Combined exhibition – “Caring For Country” Tandanya Cultural Institute – Adelaide

1999   August - Solo Exhibition – Flinders Lane Gallery, Melbourne

1999   August - Combined exhibition – Gallery Savah – Sydney Barbara Weir Profile

1999   September - Combined exhibition – North Shore Fine Art – Sydney

1999   November - Solo exhibition ‘DreamWorks’ Gallery Savah – Sydney

1999   November - Solo exhibition Mbantua Gallery, Alice Springs, NT.

2000   February - Combined exhibition “An Affair to Remember” ArtSauce – Singapore

2000   March  - Solo exhibition – “Gathering the Past” Redback Art Gallery Brisbane

2000   March  - Combined Exhibition – “Artists of Utopia”, Tandanya, S.A

2000   April - Solo exhibition Gallery Savah, Sydney

2000   May - Solo exhibition, Mbantua Gallery

2000   June - Combined exhibition, Gordes, Vaucluse, France

2000   September - DACOU in association with AMP an official sponsor of the Sydney 2000   Olympic Games, hosted an exhibition of mixed Utopia art in the AMP building Sydney

2000   September - Combined exhibition at Mary Place Gallery, Sydney

2000   November - Selected entrant for the Redlands Westpac Art Prize Mosman Art Gallery, NSW

2000   November - ‘Women’s Business’, Australian Exhibition Centre Chicago. U.S.A

2001   February - Combined exhibition “Out of Utopia” Chapman Gallery Canberra

2001   February - Combined exhibition –Alison Kelly Gallery, Armadale, Victoria

2001   February - Selected artist to be included in the prestigious Young Presidents Organization University, Westin Hotel, Pitt Street, Sydney in association with Mbantua Gallery, Alice Springs

2001   May - ‘Painting Country’ – combined exhibition at Tandanya Cultural Institute, Adelaide, SA

2001   May - ‘Desert Colour, My Country’ – combined exhibition Raintree Aboriginal Art Gallery, Darwin, NT

2001   May - ‘Women Artists of the Australian Desert’ – combined exhibition at Gallery 2021, Auckland, New Zealand

2001   June - ‘Two women – Dreamings’ Dreamtime Gallery Santa Fe, New Mexico, USA – exhibited with Gloria Petyarre.

2001   September - Solo exhibition, Mbantua Gallery, Alice Springs

2002   Jan/Feb - ‘The Utopia Six’, Flinders Lane Gallery, Melbourne

2002   July - ‘Generations’ Japingka Gallery WA

2002   August - Mbantua Gallery, Alice Springs

2002   Denmark, Paris and other areas in France.

2002   Exhibited twice in Japan

2002   Queen Victoria Building, Sydney

2002   New York with her mother, Minnie Pwerle’s work

2002   ‘United – Mother and Daughter’, Alison Kelly Gallery, Melbourne

2002   September - Art and Soul Gallery, Nashville, TN, USA

2002   October -  'The Cove Gallery' Portland, Oregon USA

2002   October - Mary’s Wood, Portland, OR, USA

2002   October - Urban Wine Works, Portland, OR, USA

2003   March - Light Over Utopia, Japingka Gallery, Fremantle, WA

2003   June/July - Creative Collaboration Mbantua Gallery, Alice Springs NT

2003   June - Barbara Weir/Emily Kngwarreye, Westside Gallery, Marrickville, NSW

2003   September - New City Merchants, Knoxville, Tennessee USA

2003   September - Art and Soul Gallery, Nashville, Tennessee USA

2003   September - 'The Cove Gallery' Portland, Oregon USA

2003   October - Contemporary Aboriginal Art Event, Umpqua Bank, Portland, Oregon USA

2004   July – August - Addison Road Gallery, Marrickville, NSW

2004   Aug-Sep - Mbantua Gallery USA exhibition: Portland, Nashville, Knoxville, Hartford, Greenwich, Philadelphia and New York

2005  February - Barbara Weir and Daughter, Mbantua Gallery, Alice Springs, N.T

2005   2nd March  - Invitational Private Exhibition at Madigans Restaurant, Alice Springs with Mbantua Gallery to meet with HRH Prince of Wales

2005  March - Barbara Weir, Addison Road Gallery, Marrickville, NSW

2005   May-June - Small Wonders(A collection of 1’x1’ and 1’x1½’ paintings), Mbantua Gallery, Alice Springs, N.T

2004   Evolution of Utopia, Cultural Museum, Mbantua Gallery, Alice Springs

2007   January - Group exhibition, Robert Steele Gallery, NY, USA

2007  February - Standing on Ceremony, Tandanya Cultural Institute, Adelaide, SA

2007   October - Solo exhibition, Blowing in the Wind, Artmob, Hobart, Tas

2007  October - New Works from Utopia, Space Gallery, Pittsburg, PA, USA

2008  June - Dreamings – the Land, Outback Aboriginal Land, Caulfield, Vic



Discovery Media: June 2000 – Utopia Revisited - Film following Barbara Weir’s rediscovery of her family.