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Betty Mbitjana was born in Utopia, NT circa 1945. She is the daughter of renowned artist Minnie Pwerle. Betty paints the awelye, bush berry, and body painting motifs. Bettyâ€™s mother and other women used to collect these fruits, cut them up into pieces and skewer them on a piece of wood and dry them to be eating in times when bush tucker was scarce.
Bettyâ€™s paintings depict the designs that the women would paint on their bodies, and the dancing tracks which are made in the sand during womenâ€™s (awelye) ceremony. Through their awelye ceremonies, women pay homage to their ancestors, show respect for their country and dance out their collective maternal role within their community. A design based on these dancing tracks is painted on womenâ€™s bodies before a ceremony is performed, and this same design can be seen today in Bettyâ€™s works on canvas and in the works of her mother, sisters, and aunts. Ochre, charcoal and ash are all used to paint designs on the womenâ€™s upper bodies, and Pwerle women paint their chests, breasts and upper arms for awelye in ochre, red and white. The designs they use have been passed down for many generations, and only the Pwerle or Kemarre owners can paint them.
Bettyâ€™s paintings are recognized for their vibrant color and dynamic composition.
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