Gloria Petyarre is one of the most famous Indigenous artists living and working today. She is well known for her ‘Bush Medicine Leaf’ paintings.
Her career took off around 1999, when she won the annual ‘Wynne Prize for Landscape’ at the New South Wales Gallery. The painting that won depicted a gold and green bush leaf with swirling brush strokes that gave the work movement and made it seem as though wind was blowing through it. The leaves in the winning painting is based on the Kurrajong tree which is used for bush medicine and has subsequently become a popular motif in her work and who’s style has bought many new painters to the genre.
Gloria is from a region called Utopia, which is around 230-300km from Alice Springs and is an incredibly remote town. Gloria and her family first became interested in art by becoming founding members of the Utopia Women’s Silk Batik Group, formed in 1977. This led to worldwide recognition of her work and led to another successful project in 1988. This time the artists used primed, stretched canvas for their paintings which really excited them, compared to the silk and batik techniques they were used to using. The works created were exhibited in many high profile galleries around Australia and was the beginning of the Utopian Art Movement. A movement that received international recognition.
Gloria’s career blossomed as demand for Utopian art grew. She exhibited in many different countries including France, Germany, the United Kingdom, Belgium, The Netherlands, Italy, the USA and Japan. She has also exhibited in many regional and commercial galleries around Australia.
Now in her sixties, Gloria continues to paint. Lately, she is more focused on creating her big leaf paintings as opposed to her finer medicine leaf works. She uses giant brush strokes that mix colour on the canvas to create a range of interesting paint effects.