Gloria Petyarre is an Aboriginal artist from the Anmatyerre community, just north of Alice Springs. She is a significant figure in the Contemporary Indigenous art world. Gloria lived at the Utopia community after 1977, where she started batik painting, exhibiting in shows around Australia for ten years. She began work on the 'Summer Project' in 1989 which involved translating the batik paintings onto canvas. She was one of the founding members of this Utopia Women's Batik Group.
She paints several Dreamtime stories such as Pencil Yam, Bean, Emu, Mountain Devil Lizard and Small Brown Grass. Her paintings – monochromatic or multi-colored - are distinguishable for their well-defined segments filled with curved lines, and evoke a strong rhythmic quality. Her style has evolved into abstract fields that represent the bush medicine leaves, grasses and bodypaint.
About the artworks
In this painting, Gloria paints the Bush Medicine Leaf in a gorgeous Impressionistic style. The Bush Medicine Plant is an Australian native that grows wild in Central Australia. Women go to different places around Utopia to collect leaves from these plants. Back at the camp the leaves are boiled to extract resin. Kangaroo fat is mixed into the resin, creating a paste that can be stored for a long time in bush conditions. This medicine is used to heal cuts, wounds, bites, rashes and also acts as an insect repellent. By painting "Bush Medicine", Gloria is paying homage to the spirit of the medicine plant in the hope that it will regenerate, enabling the people to continue to benefit from its healing properties.