Arlparra Country by Angeline Pwerle Ngala
Born in 1947, Angeline Pwerle Ngala has come into international prominence with her interpretation of her Dreaming – the Bush Plum – Arnwekety on her grandfather’s country, Arlparra.
The subtle changes in the depth and intensity of her dot-work produce a multi-dimensional textured surface. Angeline also does figurative work in strong, striking colours.
Married to the painter and sculptor Louis Pwerle (deceased) Angeline is the sister of painters Kathleen Ngala and Polly Ngala all of whom paint the Dreaming – Bush Plum. Angeline was part of the batik project in 1988 and her work is featured in the Robert Holmes á Court Collection which has toured extensively within Australia and overseas. She began to use the medium of acrylic paint on canvas in the summer of 1988-9 as part of the CAAMA project with the Utopia women’s paintings: ‘The First works on Canvas, A Summer Project’. She has continued to paint with acrylics on canvas.
Her work has been collected by many significant public and private galleries and institutions. She was a finalist in the 23rd Telstra National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Awards, 2006.
‘In 1986 she was introduced to batik; however, in recent years she has primarily focused on sculpture and painting. The representation of the Bush plum (Arnwekety), Arrker (night owl), bush foods, and flowers remain the central concerns of her work. Along with the other women artists of Utopia, Pwerle was first given canvas and acrylic paint in the late 1980s. Her canvases characteristically feature an intense concentration of dots which produce the effect of movement or shadows, across the surface. Her work is distinct from that of other artists in the community in the clarity of her colour schemes. Placed on dark backgrounds, the dots take on a pure, ephemeral quality.
There is a strong heritage of amongst the men and women of Utopia, although until the 1980s women made only non-traditional sculptural work. It was in this context that Pwerle’s bold, whimsical animals and figures were first produced. The artist gives her creatures and little people bright-eyed, startled faces and adorns their bodies in green, grey, and blue, as well as traditional ochres.’ WN
Part extract Kleinert & Neale, The Oxford Companion to Aboriginal Art and Culture, 2000, OUP, Melbourne.