Bush Medicine Leaves Aboriginal Paintings
Bush Medicine Leaves paintings are one of the most well-known styles of Aboriginal art. Produced by a small group of female artists in Central Australia, their swirling patterns are striking and instantly recognisable.The Artists
The first Bush Medicine Leaves Aboriginal desert art painting to come to the world’s attention did so in 1999, when Gloria Petyarre’s painting Leaves won the Wynne Prize for the best landscape painting of Australian scenery. This recognition made her the first female Aboriginal artist to win a major competition with the Gallery of New South Wales. While Gloria Petyarre was the most likely originator of the style, she is not the only artist to paint in the Bush Medicine Leaves style. In fact, she comes from a family of female artists, many of whom have made Bush Medicine Leaves paintings. Artists painting in the same style include Jeannie Petyarre, Louise Numina and Dulcie Long Pula.The Paintings
Each Bush Medicine Leaves painting consists of a dense pattern of individually painted leaves. The tapered brush strokes form swirling patterns. While the concept remains the same from painting to painting, the overall shape, colour and density of the paintings can vary to a great degree. Designs range from the extremely monochrome to the explosions of bright colour favoured by Selina Numina.The Story
The Bush Medicine Leaves paintings are based on the leaves of the Kurrajong tree native to New South Wales, Queensland, Victoria and the Northern Territory. Its leaves played an important role in Aboriginal medicine in those regions. Most often, they would be boiled and then mashed with kangaroo or emu fat to make a medicinal paste. Used on the skin, this paste was said to cure a wide variety of illnesses and injuries including skin infections, insect bites and even skin cancer.Other Aboriginal Art
Bush Medicine Leaves paintings are far from the only example of modern Aboriginal art. In fact, the Aboriginal community of Utopia, where the Petyarre family comes from, is famous for its artists. Many different styles of Aboriginal art are produced, all rooted in Aboriginal culture and ways of life. For example, Aboriginal Bush Tucker paintings take the different types of food found in the desert as their subject matter. Other popular styles include Central Australian dot paintings, which feature abstract designs made up of tiny dots, as well as Northern Australian Rarrk art which features intricate patterns of parallel lines painted with brushes made from human hair.