Barbara Weir and Pwerle Sisters

Barbara Weir and Pwerle Sisters Emily and Molly

Two episodes I remember well when my thoughts are with the sisters.

Barbara Weir, who was a well-known established artist, had her aunties sleeping in her house in Alice Springs when they painted in my place. She dropped all four sisters in the morning in my studio and picked them up again in the evening, checking their work and collecting payment every day.  Barbara made sure the ladies got a fair deal. She looked after her aunties and their family and provided them with all they needed to improve their life in their remote outstation. I did the cooking during the day and all of us loved our time together.

One day, after a long night since the 4 ladies left only after about 10 p.m. the phone was ringing at about 5 a.m. Barbara was on the phone and said that the ladies said, “we want to go back to the old man”. They meant me. About 20 minutes later they arrived. I had already warmed up the Studio and prepared hot tea and sandwiches since it was freezing cold in Alice, the reason why they wanted to come back early.

I always watched Emily when she painted since at times the old lady put some lines representing dancing lines into her painting design. That was always the time when I had to take a towel and cover Emily’s painting. Molly, when observing Emily paints lines, has a couple of times thrown the painting brush at her and said, “This is my story”.

Without talking at all and simply quietly painting this old lady was very cheeky and so was Molly. Once I provided Molly who used a larger brush for her Dancing Line paintings was provided by me with a small brush. I thought she would do beautiful, refined paintings and she painted a 90 x 120 cm canvas with it. When Barbara picked up the ladies in the evening and discovered this painting, she had a go at me. “Those brushes I use for my paintings; you are not allowed to give them to the ladies”. When Barbara did not stop having a go at me for some time Molly interfered and said in what I felt a funny way “you can sell that painting as yours”.