Caroline Numina Napanangka - Bush Medicine Leaves - 60 x 60cm
Artist: Caroline Numina Napanangka
Title: Bush Medicine Leaves
Size: 60 x 60 cm
Acrylic on Canvas
Stretched and ready to hang.
Bush Medicine Leaves is a well documented dreaming story painted by the women artists of Utopia in Central Australia. The flowing motion and undulating rhythm of the subject matter reflects the importance of the bush medicine leaves to traditional Aboriginal culture.
The bush medicine leaves are collected by the women and are highly prized for their restorative powers as part of traditional health practices.
Bush medicine leaves derive from a particular native shrub which grows abundantly in the desert regions of Utopia, north-east of Alice Springs. During the life of the plant, the leaves change colour and exhibit different medicinal properties. The artists who paint this story represent the leaves as they float to the ground, and they employ a range of brush strokes and colours to represent the leaves at different times of the year.
When the leaves of the shrub are green they are gathered by the women and ground up using a stone. Then the medicine leaf compound is mixed with water to form a milky solution, which can be used to cure coughs, colds and flu-like symptoms.
Also the medicine leaves can be collected and boiled to extract the resin, which is then mixed together with kangaroo fat. The paste that is created can be stored for six months in bush conditions. This resulting medicine can then be used to heal cuts, wounds, bites, rashes and spread as an insect repellent.
The bush medicine leaves can also be made into a mixture to apply to aching joints or to place on the temples to cure headaches. Like all aspects of traditional Aboriginal culture, knowledge of bush medicine has been passed down from generation to generation over thousands of years, and is still being used today by the people of Utopia.
In painting the Bush Medicine Leaf story, the artists of Central Australia pay homage to the spirit of the medicinal plant. By creating its image the artists encourage the regeneration of the bush medicine plant, so that her people can continue to benefit from its healing powers. Gloria Petyarre was the Utopia artist who initially developed the style and representation of the Bush Medicine Leaf story. Other artists from her clan group have continued to paint this story, including artists Rosemary Petyarre, Jeannie Petyarre, Dulcie Long Pwerle, Abie Loy Kemarre and Janet Golder Kngwarreye.
Louise Numina Napanangka is an Anmatyerre artist from Ti Tree, 190km North of Alice Springs in Central Australia. She grew up on Stirling Station, south of Tennant Creek. She learned to paint from her famous aunts, Gloria and Kathleen Petyarre, and from Minnie Pwerle.
Louise began painting in 1981 and later in 1995 moved to Darwin with her family. She shares her painting heritage with her five sisters – Lanita Numina, Jacinta, Caroline, Selina and Sharon Numina, all of whom are experienced artists. Louise draws on the ceremonies and stories from women’s law which have a shared theme – the role food gathering and the sourcing of bush medicine.
In her paintings Louise pays homage to the spirit of the various bush tucker plants. The transformation of the land means new growth and regeneration, and so the renewal of bush tucker is important for survival. The brush strokes, in warm colours, overlap and weave to create a swaying effect in Louise’s medicine leaves, which are collected to treat various ailments and wounds. Louise has participated in several exhibitions at Japingka Gallery along with her sister artists.