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Jeannie Mills

"Bush Yam" by Jeannie Mills Pwerle


Commission Painting

  • SIZE 80 BY 76 CM




About Jeannie

Jeannie Mills Pwerle comes from the community of Utopia, 300 km northeast of Alice Springs, with her traditional country being at Irrwelty and Atnwengerrp. Her mother is Dolly Mills Petyarre, and her uncle is Greeny Purvis Petyarre (both of whom are well-known artists). Her great-aunt is the late Emily Kame Kngwarreye, dubbed by art experts as one of the world's best modern and abstract artists.

Raised by an Indigenous artist generation that was part of the batik-producing generation of the 1970s, Jeannie was exposed to the success that these artists experienced as they began to experiment with acrylic on canvas. Jeannie inherited the Anaty (Desert Yam or Bush Potato) Dreaming from her mother; however, as an artist, she has depicted this dreaming in a unique style that is all her own.

Paintings by Jeannie predominately represent the flowers and seeds of the Anaty, which she enjoys collecting in her homeland. The yam grows underground with a viny shrub growing above ground, up to 1 metre high. It is normally found in the Acacia scrublands on the spinifex sand plains, and it produces large pink flowers after the summer rain. The Anaty is a tuber (or swollen root) of the shrub and tastes like the common sweet potato. It can be eaten raw or cooked.

About the artwork 

The linear work in Jeannie's artworks represents the impressive root system of the yam, and dots represent its seeds. There is an ancient Dreamtime story belonging to the Anaty, which artists continue to be taught as they get older. By depicting the Anaty in their paintings, Indigenous artists can pay homage to this significant plant and encourage their continual rejuvenation.

Using a variety of colours in each brushstroke, Jeannie builds up a pattern of harmonious (and occasionally contrasting) colours embedded in (or defined by) a multitude of fine white dots, executed with intricate detail. Her paintings capture the viewer's attention as their eyes meander across the canvas, enjoying the harmonies and subtle variations in each brushstroke—no two are the same.

Although several other Utopian artists share the Anaty, Jeannie's works are unique to her and immediately recognisable. Her works and the variegated colour tones within them make fascinating pieces in the home because their colours subtly change, deepen, or brighten with every nuance of ambient light. They make excellent choices for interior design enthusiasts.

Jeannie lives a traditional life at Utopia as a ngangker (traditional healer or doctor), providing advice, bush medicines, and applications to the people of her community. She lives in Ahalpere country with senior elder Lena Pwerle, and the two are heavily involved in educating and encouraging other women to participate in painting, exhibitions, and culture.


  • Holmes à Court Collection, Perth
  • Mbantua Gallery Private Collection, Alice Springs


2008 25th NATSIAA, Darwin - Finalist

Selected Group Exhibitions

  • 2020 Sounds of Summer, Japingka Gallery, Perth
  • 2020 60 by 60 - Small Paintings, Japingka Gallery, Perth
  • 2020 Colours of Spring, Kate Owen Gallery, Sydney
  • 2020 Central Focus, Art Mob, Hobart
  • 2019 Defining Tradition | The colourists, Kate Owen Gallery, Sydney
  • 2019 Landscape Colours, Japingka Gallery, Fremantle
  • 2016 Spring Colour, Kate Owen Gallery, Sydney
  • 2014 Small Works Collection, Japingka Gallery, Fremantle
  • 2012 Little Gems, Japingka Gallery, Fremantle
  • 2010 Summer Collection, Japingka Gallery, Fremantle
  • 2009 Desert Miniatures, Japingka Gallery, Fremantle
  • 2008 Utopia Collection, Japingka Gallery, Fremantle
  • 2006 Colours of Utopia, Japingka Gallery, Fremantle
  • 2004 Last of the 20th Century, Mbantua Gallery, Alice Springs
  • 2002 Art and Soul Gallery, Nashville, Tennessee, USA
  • 2002 The Cove Gallery, Portland, Oregon USA (Benefit - OHSU Heart Research Centre)
  • 2002 Urban Wine Works, Portland, Oregon USA (Benefit - OHSU Heart Research Centre)
  • 2002 Mary's Woods, Portland, Oregon USA (Benefit - OHSU Heart Research Centre)
  • 1995 Mbantua Gallery, Alice Springs
  • 1993 Central Australian Aboriginal Art and Craft Exhibition, Araluen Centre, Alice Springs.
  • 1990 Utopia - A Picture Story, an exhibition of 88 works on silk from the Holmes à Court Collection
  • 1989 Utopia Women's Paintings, the First Works on Canvas, A Summer Project