Betty Mbitjana - AWELYE AND BUSH MELON BM1829

Betty Mbitjana Awelye and Bush Melon Australian Aboriginal Art Painting on canvas BM1829


The provenance of works of fine art is of great significance, especially to their owner. There are a number of reasons why painting provenance is important. A good provenance increases the value of a painting, and establishing provenance may help confirm the date, artist and the subject of a painting. It may confirm whether a painting is genuinely of the period it seems to date from. Documented evidence of provenance for an object can help to establish that it has not been altered and is not a forgery, a reproduction, stolen or looted art. Provenance helps assign the work to a known artist, and a documented history can be of use in helping to prove ownership.

All artworks of our Gallery come with a AAA Gallery Certificate of Authenticity and where possible, working photographs and/or a photo of the artist with the artwork and/or video of an artist in working process of creating an artwork.


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Artist: Betty Mbitjana 
Skin Name: Mbitjana / Mpetyane
Born: c.1950
Region: Utopia, Central Australia
Language: Anmatyerre
Subjects and Themes(Dreaming): Bush Berry , Bush Plum, Awelye & Bush Melon


Betty Mbitjana is the daughter of renowned artist Minne Pwerle and the sister of artist Barbara Weir. Her husband was Lena Pwerle's who sadly passed away in 2012.

Betty, now believed to be in her sixties, grew up on a large remote farm in the Northern Territory of Australia,

participating in the customary practices of her culture.  Her late mother, Minnie Pwerie, a recognised artist, had a strong influence on her artistic development and thematic preference – that of a tribal ceremony pertaining to females using inherited patterns depicting the designs painted on the women’s upper bodies and those made in the sand, are frequently the basis of Betty’s work.  

The talented females in her extended family would depict the local hardy bush berry and bush plum (awelye) in the sacred design on their chests, breasts and upper arms, using the traditional media of ochre, charcoal and ash and through their dance rituals acknowledge their predecessors, show respect for their land and celebrate their ‘women’s business’.  

Betty’s artwork is highly regarded and well produced.  Her symbolism and technique provide the viewer with a sense of movement and vibrancy.  Her work has been exhibited at several galleries over the past five years.

This artwork represents the artist's country of Atnwengerrp and the women's ceremonies performed, which is illustrated with U shaped motifs and lines. The lines depict Awelye. Awelye or Awely represents ceremonies; women's ceremony and ceremonial design (body paint). The large concentric circles represent the ceremonial sites. The small circles depicted refer to the bush melon fruit, which once grew plentiful, but now days difficult to find. The Aboriginal women gathered the fruit, either to be eaten or dried, when bush tucker became scarce.


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