Gloria Petyarre is a well known aboriginal artist who paints in Utopia in the Northern Territory. This painting, Mulga Leaves, by Gloria Petyarre demonstrates her clever use of colour and her unique ability to show movement in her canvas. Gloria Petyarre began painting her stories in Batik and has developed her colour palate and style to make the most of the Acrylic on canvas medium.
Mulga leaves or bush medicine leaves are traditionally collected for medicine by the women who live in Utopia. The leaves are ground up and brewed in to drinks or pastes to heal wounds. They also happen to be Gloria’s main subject matter when painting. The leaves show movement as the wind blows through the leaves. In this case the leaves are shown as small where some of her other paintings show the leaves as large vibrant brush strokes jumping from the canvas. Gloria is a prolific artist and despite the limited subject matter she creates truly unique paintings.
Gloria has worked featured at the art gallery of NSW and the national gallery in Canberra. One of her large paintings is hung in the Prime Ministers residence and she has been selected for the Wynne Prize as a finalist at the AGNSW twice in the last 5 years.
Gloria Petyarre began painting during the 1980’s when a group of women from Utopia were taken to Indonesia to learn the Batik technique. Her paintings started using the more definite lines as would have been used in batik as she painted her body paint designs and mountain devil lizard stories.
Gloria Petyarre’s rendition of bush medicine leaves uses very small brush strokes where as he depictions of Mulga Leaves tend to use larger brush strokes for the leaves. The bush medicine leaves grow on a variety of trees from salt cush to mulga plants and can be found even in the most dry and arid country.