Barbara is an incredible woman, an artist and politician, she has been campaigning for the local land rights movement since the 1970s. In 1985, she was elected as the first woman president of the Indigenous Urapunta Council. Her life has not been easy, Barbara was one of the Stolen Generations, where Aboriginal children were taken from her family and placed into foster care. She was reunited with her mother in the 1960s, but it took many years to repair the bonds.
She took up painting in 1985, her work includes representations of plants and dreamings and is much sought after. Her mother, Minnie Pwerle, is widely regarded as one of Australia's most significant contemporary female artists, despite only beginning to paint at the age of 80.
Her paintings depict grasses, which have been of vital importance to Aboriginal people throughout their history. Where water is scarce there are fewer plants, but grasses grow throughout the country adapted to diverse conditions that range from desert to rainforest. Many parts of the grass plants were important, the stems and rhizomes were used to make fibres woven into string, bags, rope, baskets and mats. However, it was the seeds from grasses that were most important - they were used to make bush bread.
Native millet (Panicum) and spinifex (Triodia) were harvested for their seed. Collecting seeds and separating them from the husks took skills and practice, however, there were also bush-craft secrets. In the Kimberley, the women discovered that after the dry season, many seeds would be left around the nests of harvester ants. The ants had collected and husked the seed and they were able to collect it saving a lot of work.