Emily Pwerle Indigenous Australian, b. c. 1922-

Born: Utopia, NT

Language Group: Anmatyerre/Alyawerre

Community: Utopia, NT


Emily Pwerle was born in 1922 and is the sister of famous Utopian Aboriginal artist Minnie Pwerle. Emily was born in Utopia and has lived a traditional Indigenous life, with little exposure to the Western way of living.  This has made her very knowledgeable on Indigenous culture, which has provides Emily with plentiful inspiration for her artwork.


Interestingly, Emily didn’t pick up a paintbrush until her early 80s. Only when encouraged by her sister Minnie, did she start to explore painting with canvas and acrylic paints. Emily instantly took to painting and in no time started to create works which were individualistic expressions of Dreamtime. Tjukurrpa stories. 


Emily Pwerle often images Awelye, or body paint design, which is a symbolic representation of women’s ceremony, the iconography referring to abstracted breasts, with the traditional hatched pattern. These designs are painted in ochre on the upper torso and breasts of Utopia women during ceremony.