Gloria Petyarre - Bush Medicine Leaves

Regular price $2,800.00

Artist: Gloria Petyarre

Title: Bush Medicine Leaves

Size: 55 x 200 cm

Art Rental: $280 per month.


'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
Country: Atnangkere
Region: Utopia, Central Australia
Born: 1945

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.

Gloria Petyarre, sometimes referred to as Gloria Pitjara, is arguably the most famous and significant of all living female Australian Aboriginal artists. She is internationally acclaimed for her 'Bush Medicine Leaf' paintings.

Her career took off when she won the coveted 'Wynne Prize for Landscape' at the New South Wales Gallery in 1999. It was a triumph for Aboriginal art. Gloria became the first Indigenous Australian artist ever to win a major art prize at the Gallery of New South Wales.

The painting was an extraordinary new artistic statement, quite unlike any other Aboriginal artwork to that time. A huge, gold and green abstract work, it was made up of swirling leaf shaped brush strokes positioned close together on a black background. It somehow captured the energy and flow of leaves being scattered by a fitful wind, seaweed swirling in a change of tide, or grass billowing in the wind.

So much did this artwork fascinate the essentially nature-loving people of this country, that it was to become one of the most popular styles in Aboriginal art, bringing many a devotee to the genre because of its resonance with the viewer.

Gloria continued to paint this style for the next 20 years until her retirement in 2019 due to health issues. During that time and subsequently, the style has been adopted and adapted by several generations of her family members. However, Gloria was and is credited with being the creator of this popular style and its most collectable proponent.

Gloria's origins are in a region called Utopia, covering an area approximately 230 - 300km from Alice Springs, itself a remote town to many people.

Many of Australia's foremost Indigenous artists spring from this area, including Gloria's renowned aunt, Emily Kame Kngwarreye, deceased since 2006, and the most famous and accomplished female Indigenous Artist Australia has produced.

Gloria, her family members and her skin family, first became interested in art making by participating in the Utopia Women's Silk Batik Group introduced in 1977 and initiated by CAAMA (the Central Australian Aboriginal Media Association). Both Gloria and Emily were founding members of the group.

With up to 80 members at a time, the Batik and Tie-die project became the seeding inspiration for the artists, and its tremendous success both in Australia and overseas led to another successful project introduced in 1988, again by CAAMA.

This time, the artists were to paint on primed, stretched canvas, and many of the women took to the new medium with ease and enthusiasm, finding it more exciting to work with than the silk and batik techniques they had hitherto used.

The resulting works were exhibited at the S.H.Erwin Gallery in Sydney and several other notable galleries across Australia. It was the beginning of the Utopian Art Movement, and it was impressive enough to gain international attention. Gloria was one of the artists at the very centre of it.

As demand for Utopian art grew, so did Gloria's career. She travelled with her art to many countries and exhibited in France, Germany, the United Kingdom, Belgium, the Netherlands, Italy, the USA and Japan, and of course in regional and commercial galleries throughout Australia.

It would be easy to think that Gloria's works were limited to bush medicine leaves works, so popular were they. In fact she had quite a number of dreamings in her portfolio. She painted the 'Thorny Mountain Devil Lizard Dreaming', a pattern of swirling coloured lines which imitate the tracks made in the sand by the lizard's tail. Yam Dreaming, popularly executed by her aunt Emily, was also one of her commonly painted stories. She also painted Grass Seed, Pencil Yam, Emu, Bean, Small Brown Grass and Body Paint dreamings. This breadth of subject matter and style has made her an extremely versatile artist.

Later in her career, Gloria began to paint massive 'Big Leaf' paintings, expressionistically rendered with giant brush strokes that mix colour on the canvas to gain a variety of fascinating paint effects. The smile on her face while she painted these works revealed her delight in having a break from the finer styles that had occupied her previously.

Gloria is a multi-award winning artist and a highly collectible one. Her involvement in the founding projects of the Utopian Art Movement, and her status in the group have given her a place in Australian Art History - as well as a significant body of work.

Apart from the Wynne Prize, Gloria went on to be a finalist another four times. The most prestigious Indigenous art competition in this country, the 'Telstra National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Art Award' has featured her artworks on many occasions, and her works are widely collected and commonly held in the finest Aboriginal Art Collections and Museums worldwide.


  • Allen, Allen & Hemsley
  • Art Gallery of New South Wales, Sydney
  • Art Gallery of Queensland, Brisbane
  • Art Gallery of South Australia, Adelaide
  • Artbank, Sydney
  • Australian National Gallery, Canberra
  • Baker and McKenzie Collection
  • British Museum, London, U.K
  • Campbelltown City Art Gallery, Campbelltown, NSW
  • Flinders University, Adelaide
  • Gold Coast City Art Gallery, Gold Coast, QLD
  • Griffith University Collection, Queensland
  • James D. Wolfensohn Collection
  • Kaplan and Levi Collection, Seattle Art Museum, Seattle
  • Macquarie Group Collection
  • Mornington Peninsula Regional Gallery, Victoria
  • Museum of Victoria, Melbourne
  • Museums and Art Galleries of the Northern Territory, Darwin
  • National Gallery of Victoria, Melbourne, Victoria
  • Powerhouse Museum, Sydney
  • Queensland University of Technology, Brisbane
  • Singapore Art Museum, Singapore
  • Supreme Court Collection, Brisbane, Queensland
  • The Holmes a Court Collection
  • University of New South Wales Collection, Sydney
  • University of the Sunshine Coast Collection, Queensland
  • University of Woollongong, Woollongong
  • Wadsworth Athenaeum, Hartford, U.S.A
  • Westpac Gallery, New York, USA
  • Woollongong City Art Gallery, Woollongong
  • Museum of Contemporary Art, Sydney
  • Hank Ebes Collection, Melbourne
  • Sarrita King Collection
  • Fetzer Family Collection, Germany
  • Luciano Benetton Collection, Venice
  • Musee du quai Branly, Paris
  • Musee des arts d'Afrique et d'Oceanie, Paris
  • National Gallery of Australia, Canberra
  • Donald Holt Collection, Australia
  • Janet Holt Collection, Australia
  • Levi Collection, Seattle, Canada

Awards and Recognition

2020-2021 A portrait of Gloria Petyarre by R. Ian Lloyd features in the exhibition 'Before hand: The private life of a portrait' at the National Portrait Gallery, Canberra
National Portrait Gallery
2009 Wynne Prize, Art Gallery of New South Wales, Sydney - Finalist
2009 Kings School Art Prize, Sydney - Winner
2008 25th NATSIAA, Darwin - Finalist
2007 Wynne Prize, Art Gallery of New South Wales, Sydney - Finalist
2006 Wynne Prize, Art Gallery of New South Wales, Sydney - Finalist
2005 Wynne Prize, Art Gallery of New South Wales, Sydney - Finalist
2004 Wynne Prize, Art Gallery of New South Wales, Sydney - Finalist & Highly Commended
2004 Fremantle Print Award 2004, Fremantle Arts Centre, Fremantle - Finalist
2003 20th NATSIAA, Darwin - Finalist
2002 Redlands Westpac Art Prize, Mosman Art Gallery, Sydney - Finalist
2000 5th National Indigenous Heritage Art Award 2000, (Reconciliation Prize), Old Parliament House, Canberra - Finalist
Canberra, ACT
2000 Top 50 Collectable Artists, Australian Art Collector Magazine
1999 Top 50 Collectable Artists, Australian Art Collector Magazine
1999 Wynne Prize, Art Gallery of NSW, Sydney - Winner
1996 The Third National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Heritage Art Award, Old Parliament House, Canberra - Finalist
1996 Full Fellowship Grant, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Board, the Australia Council
1994 Tapestry Commission for the Law Courts, Brisbane
1993 Design for tapestry for Victorian Tapestry Workshop
1993 Mural for Kansas City Zoo


Selected Solo Exhibitions

2014 Gloria Petyarre: Leaves, FireWorks Gallery, Brisbane
2010 DACOU Gallery, Melbourne
2009 New Works, Big Leaves, Kate Owen Gallery, Sydney
2003 Changes - Gloria Petyarre, FireWorks Gallery, Brisbane
1999 Wildflowers, Mbantua Gallery, Alice Springs
1999 New England Regional Art Museum, Armidale
1999 Red Desert Gallery, Eumundi, QLD
1999 Flinders Lane Gallery, Melbourne
1998 Campbelltown Bicentennial Art Gallery, Campbelltown
1998 Chapman Gallery, Canberra
1998 Utopia Art, Sydney
1998 Robert Steele Gallery, Adelaide
1997 Instant Pictures, Utopia Art Sydney
1996 FireWorks Gallery, Brisbane
1995 New Works: Gloria Petyarre, FireWorks Gallery, Brisbane
1995 Gloria Petyarre: On the Line, Utopia Art, Sydney
1994 Utopia Art Sydney

Selected Group Exhibitions

2021 Top Ten Artists 2020, Kate Owen Gallery, Sydney
2021 Big Names Little Paintings, Cooee Art Gallery, Sydney
2020 Colours of Spring, Kate Owen Gallery, Sydney
2020 Pointillism Perfection, Art Mob, Hobart
2020 Still in the Desert, FireWorks Gallery, Brisbane
2020 Director's Choice 2020, Kate Owen Gallery, Sydney
2020 Top Ten - Our Most Popular Artists 2019, Kate Owen Gallery, Sydney
2019 Summer Show & Art Parade, Salt, Queenscliff, VIC
2019 Defining tradition | black + white, Kate Owen Gallery, Sydney
2019 International Women's Day, Kate Owen Gallery, Sydney
2019 Defining tradition | the colurists, Kate Owen Gallery, Sydney
2019 Landscape Colours, Japingka Gallery, Fremantle
2018 Earth's Creation 2: Emily Kame Kngwarreye & Family, Kate Owen Gallery, Sydney
2017 Gems from the Stockroom, Kate Owen Gallery, Sydney
2017 A SWEEP continues, FireWorks Gallery, Brisbane
2017 Sacred Marks, JGM Gallery, London
2017 Utopia - The artists of Delmore Downs, Yaama Ganu Gallery, Moree
2016 Utopia Sisters - The Petyarre Women, Delmore Gallery with RedSea Gallery, Brisbane
2015 Wynners, Kate Owen Gallery, Sydney
2011 Aboriginal Art Collectors' Gallery, Kate Owen Gallery, Sydney
2010 New Beginnings, Central Art - Aboriginal Art Store, Alice Springs (touring Germany)
2009 A decade of Australia�s indigenous fine art 1999-2009, Salt Gallery, Queenscliff, VIC
2009 Size Matters, Kate Owen Gallery, Sydney
2009 5th Shalom Gamarada Aboriginal Art Exhibition, University of NSW, Sydney
2009 Abstraction, Utopia Art, Sydney
2008 Three Petyarres, Kate Owen Gallery, Sydney
2008 Gooch's Utopia, Flinders University, Adelaide
2007 The Petyarre Sisters 2007, Central Art - Aboriginal Art Store, Alice Springs
2006 A Survey, Utopia Art, Sydney
2006 National Museum of Women in the Arts, Washington DC, USA
2006 Utopia, Flinders Lane Gallery, Melbourne
2006 National Museum of Women in the Arts, Washington DC
2004 Power of The Land, Utopia Art, Sydney
2004 Fremantle Arts Centre, Fremantle
2004 Curtin University of Technology, Perth
2004 Ivan Dougherty Gallery, COFA, NSW
2004 The Women's Show, Vivien Anderson Gallery, Melbourne
2004 Utopia: Gloria, Barbara, Minnie, Flinders Lane Gallery, Melbourne
2003 Glen Eira City Gallery, Melbourne
2003 Chapel off Chapel, Melbourne
2003 National Gallery of Victoria at Federation Square, Melbourne
2002 Light Square Gallery, Adelaide
2002 Singapore Art Museum, Singapore
2002 Knut Grothe Galeri, Charlottlenlund, Copenhagen
2002 Two Thirds Sky, Hazelhurst Regional Gallery & Arts Centre, NSW
2002 The Utopia Six, Flinders Lane Gallery, Melbourne
2002 Royal Exhibition Hall, Melbourne
2002 Gallery Rai, Tokyo, Japan
2002 Chapel off Chapel, Melbourne
2002 National Gallery of Victoria at Federation Square, Melbourne
2001 Icons of Australian Aboriginal Art, Singapore
2001 Brisbane City Gallery, Brisbane
2001 Kunst der Gegenwart, Vienna, Austria
2001 Manawatu Gallery, New Zealand
2000 Australian National University, Canberra
2000 FireWorks Gallery, Brisbane
2000 Australian National University, Canberra
2000 Old Parliament House, Canberra
2000 Royal Exhibition Hall, Melbourne
1999 Bush Garden, Japingka Gallery, Fremantle
1999 Gallery Gabrielle Pizzi, Melbourne
1999 Art Gallery of Western Australia, Perth
1999 Embassy of Australia, Washington, U.S.A.
1999 Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco, U.S.A.
1999 New England Regional Art Museum;
1999 Art Gallery of Western Australia, Perth
1999 New Leaves, Utopia Art, Sydney
1999 Quadrivium Gallery, Sydney
1999 Utopia, BMG Art, Adelaide
1999 Arts d'Australie, Bastille, Paris
1999 Sherman Galleries, Sydney
1998 The Anangkere Growth Paintings, Chapman Gallery, Canberra
1998 Annandale Galleries, Sydney
1998 Exhibitions in Europe inc. Belgium, Germany, Netherlands, Switzerland
1998 Araluen Arts Centre, Alice Springs
1998 Chapman Gallery, Canberra
1998 The Adelaide Festival Theatre, Adelaide
1998 Propositions Australiennes, Galerie Luc Queyrel, Paris
1997 Australian Galleries, Sydney
1997 Instant Pictures, Utopia Art, Sydney
1997 Galerie de Stassart, Bruxelles
1997 Sutton Gallery, Melbourne
1999 Sherman Galleries, Sydney
1996 Seoul Arts Centre, Korea
1996 Old Parliament House, Canberra
1996 Niagara Galleries, Melbourne
1996 William Mora Galleries, Melbourne
1996 Royal Exhibition Hall, Melbourne
1996 S.H. Ervin Gallery, Sydney
1995 Gallery Gabrielle Pizzi, Melbourne
1995 Mitchell Galleries, State Library of NSW, Sydney
1995 National Gallery of Australia, Canberra
1995 Aboriginal and Tribal Art Centre, Sydney
1995 Canberra Museum of Art, Gifu, Japan
1995 National Gallery of Victoria, Melbourne
1995 Powerhouse Museum, Sydney
1995 Art Gallery of NSW, Sydney
1994 Utopia Art, Sydney
1994 Masterpieces of Aboriginal Art, National Gallery of Victoria, Melbourne
1994 Gallery Gabrielle Pizzi, Melbourne
1994 Royal Exhibition Hall, Melbourne
1994 Art Gallery of NSW, Sydney
1993 Art Gallery of Queensland, Brisbane
1993 Austral Gallery, St Louis, U.S.A.
1993 Australian Embassy, Paris, France
1993 Myra Morgan Gallery, Kansas, U.S.A.
1992 Gallery Gabrielle Pizzi, Melbourne
1992 Royal Exhibition Hall, Melbourne
1992 Gallery Rai, Tokyo, Japan
1992 National Gallery of Australia, Canberra
1992 The Body Paint Collection, Bishop Museum, Hawaii
1992 The Body Paint Collection, toured USA
1992 Robert Homes a'Court Collection, Bangkok, Thailand
1991 S.H. Ervin Gallery, Sydney
1991 Art Gallery of NSW
1991 Australia Galleries, New York
1991 Meat Market Gallery, Melbourne
1990 Utopia, exhibited in Ireland, U.K., India
1990 Orange Regional Gallery, Orange NSW
1990 Tandanya Cultural Institute, Adelaide
1990 Third Eye Centre, Glasgow
1989 A Summer Project, S.H.Ervin Gallery, Sydney
1989 Utopia Batik, Araluen Centre, Alice Springs
1989 National Gallery of Australia, Canberra
1989 Coventry Gallery, Sydney
1989 Austral Gallery, St Louis, U.S.A.
1988 Bloomfield Gallery, Sydney
1984 First National Aboriginal Art Award Exhibition, Art Gallery of the Northern Territory, Darwin

More information: Gloria Petyarre - Wikipedia

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