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Gloria Petyarre / Medicine Leaves (IW7679)
120cm x 90cm Acrylic on Canvas, 2016View more from artist
120cm x 90cm Acrylic on Canvas, 2016
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c. 1945 – 2021
Gloria was born c. 1945 at Atnangkere Soakage, Northern Territory. She lived in the traditional ways before moving to one of the established settlements, Utopia. Her language is Anmatyerre and her country is Atnangkere.
Gloria was one of seven sisters who were all acclaimed artists, including Kathleen Petyarre, Violet Petyarre and Ada Bird. Her Aunt is the late Emily Kame Kngwarreye, the most celebrated painter of the Utopia Movement and Australia’s best known desert artist.
In the 1970s, Gloria was a founding member of the Utopia Women’s Batik Group. In the 1980s, Gloria made her first painting on canvas (for CAAMA’s Summer Project exhibition) and developed her unique style of depicting the stories and her understanding of the traditional country.
In 1990 she travelled to Ireland, London and India as a representative of the Utopia Women in the ‘Utopia – A picture Story’ exhibition and in 1995/96, she received a Full Fellowship Grant from the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Board of The Australia Council.
Gloria had her first solo exhibition in 1991 at the Australia Gallery in New York. In 1993, she executed a Mural for Kansas City Zoo, and in 1999, she won the prestigious Wynne Landscape Prize at the Art Gallery of New South Wales, Sydney.
Gloria Petyarre’s paintings are highly sort after by collectors and galleries throughout the world and she is regarded as one of Utopia’s most significant artists.
A wonderful lady, an incredible artist, sadly missed by all who had the privilege of knowing her.
This beautiful artwork depicts leaves of the Kurrajong tree which is used for bush medicine. Bush Medicine is Australian Aboriginal people’s traditional practice. It was believed that evil spirits caused any illness without an obvious explanation and these would be treated by the tribe’s medicine man whom would specialise in spiritual cures.
Women from the Anmatyerre region gather the leaves to be used in traditional bush medicines. The leaves are boiled and mashed with animal fats (emu or kangaroo) making a medicinal poultice or paste which can last for many months. The paste is then applied to the skin to heal a multitude of afflictions such as bites, wounds, skin infections, rashes, skin cancer and the like. The leaves are also steeped in hot water to make an infusion, or healing tea.
The leaves of the important Kurrajong, or Kurrawong tree features in these iconic paintings which first stormed into the world’s attention when Gloria Petyarre won the coveted Australian ‘Wynne Prize’ for landscape in 1999. The work in question was a large green and gold medicine leaf painting (entitled ‘Leaves’). The leaves were very fine – each resulting from a dot with a tail that tapered off to nothing – but not just one leaf; a dense pattern of thousands of them, all seemingly flowing to the tune of some breeze swirling them in unison.
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