Gracie Pwerle (Purle) Morton
A highly regarded contemporary Australian artist, Gracie began her painting career in the 1980’s at Utopia working initially with batik before transposing her designs onto canvas. Gracie has a distinctively minimalist style, highlighted by delicate dotting and a traditional palette. The finesse of her style captured on canvas enchants the eye with its airy lyricism and movement and the use of subtle shades of colour.
Place of Birth: Utopia Station, NT
Significant Country: Alhalkere
Gracie is of the Alyawarre language group. She was born circa 1956 at Utopia Station, approximately 250 km north-east of Alice Springs. Her family’s traditional country is associated with the Mosquito Bore (Lyentye) region, an outstation of Utopia where Gracie, together with her husband and two children, moved some years ago. Coming from a family that has a rich artistic tradition, Gracie is the daughter of artist Myrtle Petyarre who is sister of Gloria Petyarre and half-sister to the famous Utopian artist Kathleen Petyarre.
A highly regarded contemporary Australian artist, Gracie began her painting career in the 1980’s at Utopia working initially with batik before transposing her designs onto canvas.
The finesse of Gracie’s style, captured on canvas, enchants the eye with its airy lyricism and movement and the use of subtle shades of colour. With a distinctively minimalist style, highlighted by delicate dotting and a traditional palette derived from the colours of natural ochre’s, many of Gracie’s paintings are about her Bush Plum Dreaming (Amwekety). Her intricate and layered dots work depict the bush plum that grows on low shrubs, capturing the seasonal changes in different paintings. Some works show walking tracks of the women where they walk through the landscape collecting bush fruit. A group activity of the women during which time they would teach the children about the land and their culture.
Many of her works also incorporate ‘Awelye’ – which is the body paint designs that are used in ceremonies and rituals, which form the significant foundation of her culture.
As a senior traditional custodian for both the Altyerre (Dreaming) and the Amwekety (Bush Plum) Dreaming and the vast expanse of related country, in accordance with traditional law, Gracie was responsible for ensuring the Dreaming, customs and traditions associated with the Altyerre and Bush Plum. A responsibility that was passed down to Gracie from her father and aunt.
The bush plum was one of her most depicted subject matter and of importance to the Alyawarre people.
The Bush Plum Dreaming site is one of the major Dreamings of the Utopia region. Throughout this painting there is a profusion of the dry seeds of the native bush plum (canthium latifolium) a fruit which proliferates in that area.
The ‘bush plum’ which is in fact a native currant, grows on a tall, straight, thin broad-leaved, lightish- coloured tree, and is initially green, than gradually turns black as it ripens. These fruit grow in small black clusters.
The intersecting lines represent the ‘ritual activities of women who are singing, dancing and painting women’s body designs (awelye) on their limbs.
These are characteristically applied, in ceremonial contexts, to the breasts, upper back, shoulders and thighs, in parallel horizontal and vertical lines and streaks’.
Source: Dr Christine Nicholls
Admired by many collectors around the world, in their minimalist depiction and the finesse of the dot design, Gracie’s works can be found represented in major private collections both here in Australia and internationally.
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