Sharon Numina Napanagka - Bush Medicine Seeds
Artist: Sharon Numina Napanagka
Title: Bush Medicine Seeds
Size: 82 x 137cm
Acrylic on Canvas
Stretched and ready to hang.
Bush medicine leaves - the aromatic turpentine antiseptic variety depicted in this painting - are used for relieving colds, flus, breathing issues and such. It is most often boiled and the resin used in various ways including inhalation or mixed with kangaroo fat and rubbed onto aching bones and sores. The leaves can also be used to wrap around infected wounds to keep clean and reduce pain using natural made string and bark to hold it on. The plant contains antiseptic properties and smells similar to eucalyptus and mixed herbs. It is still used widely today and also features in modern healing or cleansing mainstream gatherings such as premises smokings.
Community: Utopia, Central Desert
Outstation: Stirling Station
Sharon is an Anmatyerre artist and one of six sisters and three brothers. Her mother is Barbara Mbitjana (Other names: Pananka or Price). She attended primary school at Stirling Station, a cattle station near Tennant Creek where she began painting at a young age, taking guidance from her world renowned aunties Gloria and Kathleen Petyarre. She later moved to Darwin with her family and continued her studies at Charles Darwin University where she obtained a degree in fine arts. Sharon lives in Darwin with her four sisters, Jacinta, Lanita, Louise and Caroline Numina, who are also well respected artists from Utopia.
Sharon first began painting the Women’s bush tucker dreamings when she was a young girl. Aboriginal women have their own ceremonies in which a series of song and dance cycles tell of the Ancestral Beings who walked the earth teaching women’s law and ceremony to isolated groups living throughout the desert. Each tribe has its own set of women ancestors with different stories, designs and dances, but most of the ceremonies have one theme common to all groups – that of food gathering as the most important part of women’s lives.
One of Sharon’s totems is the Bush Medicine Plant and she expresses her connection to the plant in a similar painting style to her famous Aunt, the renowned artist Gloria Petyarre. 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 about “Bush Medicine” Sharon 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.