This painting represents leaves, some of which have medicinal qualities. This style by Gloria Petyarre is one of the most prestigious styles in Australian art, winning her the acclaimed Wynne Prize in 1999. This subject does not pertain to stories from Gloria’s culture but is an original idea.
'That first one: I was looking, looking. Looks like leaf, and I been put another one and another one and, ah yeah, first leaf.'
It was Gloria's mother who taught her how to make a medicinal ointment from these leaves. She would take fat from kangaroos and echidnas and mix it with crushed medicinal leaves.
"Mum was taking the kangaroo fat, and echidna [fat]. We been mixing 'em up".
The ointment was applied to their face and their hair so that its powerful aroma would linger and aid in the relief of colds.
Gloria Tamerre Petyarre
Skin name: Petyarre (also spelled Pitjara)
Language group: Anmatyerre
Region: Utopia, Central Australia
In a career spanning almost three decades, Gloria Petyarre continues to be one of Australia’s most important and successful female artists.
An Anmatyerre woman from Atnangkere country in Utopia, Gloria Petyarre began her painting career when workshops were introduced to Aboriginal people of her community in the early 1990's. Although unsure of the medium at first, after having worked over a decade with silk batik, Gloria knew there was no looking back when she held her paint brush for the very first time. Painting brought her a sense of freedom of expression and, being experimental by nature, it allowed her artistic authority to develop.
Gloria first gained recognition in silk batik which began at Utopia in 1978 with exhibitions held nationally and internationally. In 1988 Gloria was part of the very first group to experiment with canvas, called the Summer Project, and Gloria has since continued to work in this medium.
By far the most well known and successful of Gloria’s works are her Leaves paintings. Five of her top ten artworks sold at auction have been Leaves.Originally they depicted everyday leaves scattered on the ground, but they often reflect leaves with medicinal qualities also which play a significant part in Gloria's ownership of Country.
Leaves was born one day in April 1994 at Mosquito Bore when Leaves on the Groundwas painted, now housed in the prestigious Mbantua Collection, measuring approximately 110cm x 90cm. Gloria had been painting a series of Awelye (Body Paint Design) paintings over the forgoing months, experimenting with bands of parallel lines and curvilinear patterns.
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