Aboriginal Culture and Bush Medicine Leaves

The time of Dreaming has always had a strong focus in Aboriginal culture, with stories of the Dreamtime becoming a foundation for the culture nationwide. But no other form of Aboriginal art can quite depict the land of dreams like the soft and flowing strokes in a bush medicine leaves painting.

Though this is a new style of Aboriginal art, introduced to the world in 1999, there is nothing that depicts the intricate design and strong, yet delicate, nature of Indigenous artwork quite like an Aboriginal leaf painting.

The foundation of the bush medicine leaf style

Aboriginal communities have long been connected to the land that they live on, taking sustenance from it and giving back in a complete cycle. The origins of bush medicine painting lie in paying homage to a part of this natural environment where the Aboriginal people have existed for centuries, the Kurrajong tree. The Kurrajong tree is a cure-all in Indigenous natural medicine that can be used for many medicinal purposes, from soothing a cough as a part of a tea to healing a wound with a bush poultice.

Additional recorded uses for the Kurrajong tree include healing skin afflictions such as bites, rashes and infections; being used as an insect repellent; combined into a mixture to be rubbed on the temples for headaches or on the skin for aching joints. Men often use the bark of the tree for fishing, while the branches can also be used to stun fish in the water. It’s a versatile tree, recorded to be over 50 million years old with more than 30 different species. So it’s no wonder that the women of the Utopia community, 270km north of Alice Springs, have chosen to immortalise this incredible part of nature through their art.

Family ties in bush medicine leaves painting

This new style of Aboriginal art was founded by Gloria Petyarre, though there is some debate from her cousin, Jeannie Petyarre, as to who adopted the style first. Gloria Petyarre was awarded the Wynne Prize in 1999 for Best Australian Landscape Painting, being the first female Aboriginal artist to receive this prestigious award from the Gallery of NSW. Gloria has achieved great success with sales of her Aboriginal leaf painting style around the world and is well-regarded as one of Australia’s foremost female Indigenous artists.

Though success was achieved for Gloria in the creation of a new Aboriginal style of art, like all things in the Aboriginal culture, it is important for this discovery to be passed down through the generations. The Gloria Petyarre bush medicine leaves style remains exclusive to the women of the Utopia community to this very day, all of whom are daughters, sisters, nieces and granddaughters of the Petyarre family.

Using medicine leaves in painting

The paintings themselves offer serenity and a wistful sense of calm and when paired with the deep meaning behind the style, a bush medicine painting becomes the perfect addition to any medicinal or wellness clinic around the world. Doctors and medical professionals from Australia, Europe and the US seek out medicine leaves artwork for its connectivity to health as well as well-being making their chosen piece ideal for waiting and consultation areas.

Though the style has expanded and grown since its inception to incorporate the different leaves of the original Kurrajong tree, the seemingly ever-flowing waves on each canvas remain a staple to this particular art form. The Utopia people have continued with bush medicine leaves painting to include the changing colours of the foliage over the seasons which shows connectivity to the earth and to time itself.

Bush medicine painting in Utopia

Artists in the Utopia nation are known for the batik medium and the bold and incredible dot paintings that they produce — but the medicine leaves artwork produced in recent times has captured the hearts of collectors the world over. The Utopia artistic community is proud to showcase this wonderful new Indigenous style. The next generations of the Petyarre family are proud to become masters of this art form that links so closely to their families and community.

The species of the Kurrajong tree that grow closest to Utopia are more shrub-like than a tree, but they can be found en masse in the local area. There is no shortage of inspiration for the bush medicine leaves artists of the Utopia people as the leaves change colour with the passing seasons and can be reimagined in a new way of Dreaming.

The Utopia artistic community

Though Utopia was first settled by colonists in 1927 and used predominantly as a cattle station, it is adjacent to the traditional lands of the Eastern Anmatyerre and Alyawarr people. The Indigenous people of Utopia gained their legal right to the leasehold of these lands in 1979 and since then, Utopia has become a blossoming community for Aboriginal artists to come together and showcase their talents to the world. The work of these artists through the batik medium allowed them to establish a regular source of income that supported their legal and moral rights to the land itself.

Bush medicine painting is only one of the many mediums that the Indigenous people of Utopia work in. Though it is relatively new and unique, this artistic style has worked to put Utopia on the map in Australia for Aboriginal art. Paintings from the people of Utopia are known and well-regarded as having a deep connection to traditional ceremony and showcasing bold colour as originated with the batik style and soared with the introduction of acrylics and canvas in the late 1980s.

Sourcing bush medicine painting from Utopia

At OzBid, we have taken years to establish our family-owned business as Australia’s largest art dealer by volume and we have worked to develop relationships with incredible Aboriginal artists such as those from the Utopia nation. These relationships allow us to access rare and exceptional works of medicine that leave artwork for auction around the world. If you are seeking Indigenous artwork that is truly inspired in providing an exceptional display of this unique culture, browse our collection online to discover the treasures of the Aboriginal art world.

How to buy an Aboriginal leaf painting

Bush medicine painting is in high demand. OzBid provides an online platform for live auction events where one can view, understand and bid on their chosen pieces of art in an open forum that provides some of the best value for money in the art world. From its origins as a Sydney-based auction house selling mainly art and jewellery, OzBid has moved with the times to increase the accessibility for the world to wonderful collections of Indigenous Australian artwork.

Once you have taken the time to browse our collection and find the piece that truly speaks to you, you will have time to research and discuss the piece with our expert team before placing your bid. Our auctions are designed to be as transparent for all involved as possible, with each piece featuring a price guide and expected sales figure. All you need to do is find the medicine leaves artwork that will work perfectly in your space, and you can view, bid and buy online with OzBid from anywhere in the world.

Expediting delivery of your purchases

If you are successful in purchasing a bush medicine leaves painting at auction, our expert team at OzBid will take care of shipping and delivery to you, anywhere in the world. Some of our live auctions offer free shipping included to certain cities and metro areas in Australia and for those located outside of those areas, we offer exclusive VIP shipping for your artwork to be expertly delivered to you no matter where your location may be. At OzBid we only work with the finest delivery partners to ensure that your purchases are delivered in perfect condition, as quickly as possible once your purchase has been completed.

For those who prefer to handle the collection of their purchases in person, pick-up is available from our head office in Sydney and we are willing to work with the courier company of your choice if you have a particular preference. Our shipping services extend to international addresses, which means that no matter where in the world you are, our collection of incredible bush medicine leaves artworks will be easily accessible to you.

Choose an experienced dealer for your works of art

For purveyors of fine Aboriginal art, there is no better partner to choose than OzBid. As Australia’s leading art dealer, you will find a broad collection available to you from the furthest reaches of Australia. Working with the wider Indigenous community, we are proud to offer some of the most exceptional works of Aboriginal art from artistic communities across Australia. From the incredible bush medicine painting style to stunning dot paintings to wistful images of the Aboriginal Dreamtime, there is no better selection of Indigenous art available to you in the country.

At OzBid, we are committed to supporting the wider community of Indigenous artists that we work with and by selling their works through the auction process, we can deliver timely and tangible results for works that may otherwise remain in a stand-alone gallery for months or even years. The exposure provided by OzBid for these talented artists provides them with a level of stability while offering buyers the chance to purchase these incredible works of art at prices that the market dictates.

Full-service art dealer

At OzBid, with our years of experience in delivering the finest Aboriginal works of art to the world, we are proud to offer a full-service experience to our buyers. From the very beginning, when you log in to create an account to bid on one of our auctions, through to completing your purchase of a dream-like medicine leaves painting, our expert team will be on hand to assist you with any questions you might have. Though our auctions are held online, we have never lost the family business style of customer service and we love to be able to provide the convenience of an online auction together with the complete range of services that one would receive from an art dealer in person.

Browse the beautiful collection of works available online with OzBid today and discover how you can fill that empty space on your wall with an image that speaks to culture, tradition and the deep history that is held dear to the Indigenous people.

Shop online with OzBid today

If you have been searching for a bush medicine painting to display in your home or office, contact us or browse the collection available online at OzBid today. Discover how simple it is to find your favourite medicine leaves artwork with Australia’s leading Indigenous art dealer.