Barbara Mbitjana Moore
Language: Anmatyerre / English
Community: Amata (South Australia)
Barbara was born in 1964 in Alice Springs and grew up in the nearby community of Amoonguna. She is an Anmatyerre and English speaker. Anmatyerre is from her father’s country at Ti Tree (north of Alice Springs).
After attending the Alice Springs Aboriginal boarding school, Yirira College, Barbara moved up to Ti Tree where she worked as an Aboriginal Education Worker (a preschool teacher). Years later she returned to Amoonguna and then travelled to Amata in the Aṉangu Pitjantjatjara Yankunytjatjara (APY) lands of north South Australia where her younger sister, Pauline, was working at the school and Pauline’s husband was a police assistant.
Barbara married in Amata (now widowed) and both her son and daughter still live there. Barbara is an active community member and when she is not working at the clinic and encouraging her grandchildren to do well at school she is an integral painter and supporter at the Tjala Art Centre.
Barbara is recognised for her large scale strong colours and bold shapes depicting an aerial view of her Anmatyerre country around Ti Tree in the Northern Territory.
Her paintings, Ngayuku Ngura (My Country), portray Barbara’s knowledge of her Country - depicting the landscape including rock holes and rock formations which are connected by travel lines, holding important tjukurpa. Tjukurpa (Dreamtime) refers to the creation period when ancestral beings created the land and their signs remain all over Country. Tjukurpa is also the law for relationships between people, animals, plants and the land and sky. It is the past, the present and the future – they are ‘one’.
Barbara won the celebrated General Painting Prize in the 2012 Telstra National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Art Award and has been a finalist from 2013 to 2016. She was also a finalist in the Art Gallery of NSW’s Wynne Prize in 2017, 2019 and 2021.
National Gallery of Australia, Canberra
Art Gallery of South Australia
Nganampa Kampatjangka (Beneath the Canvas, The Lives and Stories of the Tjala Artists, Wakefield Press 2015 at pages 200 - 202