Artists / Gloria Petyarre / Bush Medicine Leaves

Artist:     Gloria Petyarre

Born:       c. 1945

Language:   Anmatyerre

Country:    Atnangkere,NT

Dreamings: ‘Bush Medicine’, ‘Mountain Devil’ and ‘Atnangkere Country’ and she also paints Women Ceremonies (awelye).

Gloria Petyarre was born c. 1945 at Mulga Bore, Atnangkere in the region known today as Utopia located 270kms northeast ofAlice Springs. Gloria is one of seven sisters who are also artists, including the well-known Kathleen Petyarre, Jeannie Petyarre, Nancy Petyarre, Violet Petyarre and Ada Bird (See About the Petyarre Sisters below).  Gloria has been one of the most prolific exhibitors of all seven sisters and is therefore one of the most well-known, along with older sister Kathleen.

Gloria's first gained recognition as an artist working in the medium of Batik, exhibiting with other Utopia women in shows around Australia and abroad from 1977 to 1987. In 1988 Gloria took up canvas and painted her first work for CAAMA (The Central Australian Aboriginal Media Association) in the exhibition titled – Utopia Women’s Painting; The First Works of Canvas; a Summer Project 1988 – 1989.

In 1990 – 1991, Gloria travelled to Ireland, Londonand Indiaas a representative of the Utopia women accompanying the exhibition ‘Utopia – A Picture Story’, the Holmes a Court Collection. In 1991, Gloria had her first solo exhibition at Australian Galleries in New York and at Utopia Art, Sydney, where she also had other solo shows from 1993 to 1995. In 1995 she won the Wynne Prize for Landscape painting at the Art Gallery of New South Wales with a 10 panel work titled Leaves Blowing in the Wind.

Gloria’s work has been widely exhibited as befits her status as one of the leading Aboriginal women painters of all time, and is particularly well known for her Bush Medicine (bush yam leaves) works, not only because of the fine brushwork and beauty of these works, but also based on her status as a healer.  As her assurance as an artist has grown, so too have the brush strokes with which she depicts this dreaming.

1993 Gloria received a Tapestry Commission for the Victorian Tapestry Workshop and in 1994 for theLaw CourtinBrisbane, and in 1995/96 Gloria received a Full Fellowship grant from the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Board of the Australia Council.

Gloria’s work is in the collection of almost every majorArtGalleryin each capital city and in the Holmes a Court collection. In 1998, a work on paper was acquired by the Mornington Peninsula Regional Gallery.  She is featured on the cover of Michael Bolton’s ‘The Art of Utopia’ and more recently in ‘Fire and Shadow’ by Anna Voight and Nevill Drury and in ‘New Visions. New Perspectives’ by Anna Voight. Gloria was also recently featured in the book ‘Dreamings Of The Desert’ published by The Art Gallery of South Australia.


1993 Design for tapestry for Victorian Tapestry Workshop

1993 Mural forKansas CityZoo

1998 National Works on Paper Award, MPRG

1999 Wynne Landscape Prize, Gallery of NSW,Sydney

1999 Fellowship, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander ArtsBoard,AustraliaCouncil


1988 Group exhibition, ‘Time Before Time’, Austral Gallery,St Louis,USA.

1989 Group Exhibition, ‘A Summer Project’, S.H. Ervin Gallery,Sydney, NSW.

1990 Travelling group batik exhibition, ‘Utopia – A Picture Story’,
 the Holmes a Court Collection, Ireland, England, France, Thailand

1990 Group Exhibition, ‘Togari Lia: My Family’, Third Eye Centre,

1990 Group exhibition, ‘Utopia Men and Dogs’, Austral Gallery,
 St Louis,USA.

1991 Group Exhibition,Australian Galleries,New York,USA.

1991 Group Exhibition, ‘Aboriginal Women’s Exhibition’, Art Gallery
 of NSW, Sydney, NSW.
1991 Group exhibition, Utopia Art Sydney, NSW.

1992 Group travelling exhibition, ‘Nangara’, Aboriginal Gallery of
 Dreamings,Melbourne,Australia and internationally.

1992 Group exhibition, ‘New Tracks Old Lands’, Bostonand touring
1992 Group exhibition, ‘Aboriginal Art: Utopia in the Desert’,
 Nogizaki Arthall ,Tokyo,Japan.

1993 Solo exhibition, ‘Awelye’, Utopia Art Sydney, NSW.

1994 Solo exhibition, Utopia Art Sydney, NSW.

1995 Combined exhibition, DACOU Gallery,Adelaide, SA.

1995 Solo exhibition, ‘Gloria Petyarre: On the Line’, Utopia Art Sydney, NSW.

1996 Combined exhibition, Framed,Darwin,NT.

1996 Combined exhibition,FlindersLaneGallery,Brisbane, QLD.

1996 Solo exhibition, Fireworks Gallery,Brisbane, QLD.

1996 Combined exhibition, Quadrivium Gallery,Sydney, NSW.

1997 Combined exhibition, DACOU Gallery,Adelaide, SA.

1997 Participated in the artist in residence program at the Art Gallery of South Australia in the exhibition ‘Dreamings of the Desert’, SA.

1997 Solo exhibition, ‘Instant Pictures’, Utopia Art Sydney, NSW.

1997 Combined exhibition ‘Ten Years On’, Sutton Gallery, Melbourne, VIC.

1997 Combined exhibition, Quadrivium Gallery,Sydney, NSW.

1997 Selected entrant in the Telstra 14th National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Art Award for 1997, Darwin, NT.

1997 Solo exhibition,FlindersLaneGallery,Sydney, NSW.

1997 Combined exhibition, FireWorks Gallery,Brisbane, QLD.

1998 Combined exhibition 'Women Painters Of The Desert’ FireWorks Gallery,Brisbane, QLD.

1998 Solo exhibition at Robert Steele Gallery- Adelaide, SA.

1998 Combined exhibition ‘Utopia IV’ Quadrivium Gallery,
 Sydney, NSW.

1998 Combined exhibition ‘The Ladies Of Utopia’, Chapman Gallery,Canberra, ACT.

1998 Solo exhibition, Utopia Art,Sydney, NSW.

1998 Combined exhibition- Flinders Lane Gallery- Melbourne, VIC.

1998 Solo exhibition ‘The Atnangkere Growth Paintings’-First
 Release - Chapman Gallery- Canberra, ACT.

1998 Solo exhibition, Gloria Tamerre Petyarre,CampbelltownBicentennialArtGallery, Campbelltown, NSW.

1998 Combined exhibition in The Adelaide Festival Theatre, SA.

1991-2001 Group exhibition, ‘Spirit Country’,San Franciscoand touringUSA.

1999 Combined exhibition ‘Utopia’- BMG art-Adelaide, SA.

1999 Recipient of the Wynne Landscape Prize, NSW.

1999 Self titled solo exhibition- Flinders Lane Gallery- Melbourne, VIC.

1999 ’BushGarden’- combined exhibition - JapingkaGallery- Fremantle,WA.

1999 Combined exhibition - ‘Quadrivium Gallery’- Sydney, NSW.

1999 Combined exhibition ‘Caring For Country’- Tandanya Cultural
 Institute,Adelaide, SA.

1999 Solo Exhibition, Red Desert Gallery,Eumundi,Queensland.

1999 Combined exhibition ‘FlindersLaneGallery’- Melbourne, VIC.

1999 Combined exhibition - Gallery Savah- Sydney, NSW.

1999 Combined exhibition- North Shore Fine Art- Sydney, NSW.

1999 Solo exhibition, ‘Gloria Petyarre: A Survey’,New EnglandRegionalArt Museum, Armidale, NSW.

1999 Solo exhibition, ‘Wildflowers’, Mbantua Gallery,Alice Springs,NT.

1999 Combined exhibition with Jack Britten- Chapman Gallery- Canberra, ACT.

2000 Combined Exhibition - ‘An Affair to Remember’ - ArtSauce -Singapore.

2000 Combined exhibition- Quadrivium Gallery- Sydney, NSW.

2000 Combined exhibition- Tandanya Cultural Institute- Adelaide, SA.

2000 DACOU in association with AMP- an official sponsor of the
2000 Olympic Games, held a mixed Utopia art exhibition
in the AMP building,Sydney.

2000 Combined exhibition -MaryPlaceGallery-Sydney, NSW.

2000 Combined exhibition -SCECGS Redlands Art Prize- Sydney, NSW.

2001  ‘Painting Country’- combined exhibition at Tandanya Cultural
Institute, Adelaide SA.

2001 ’Desert Colour, My Country’- combined exhibition at Raintree

2001 ’Two Women- Dreamings’- exhibited with Barbara Weir at
Dreamtime Gallery,Santa Fe,New Mexico,USA.

2001 ‘Women Artist of the AustralianDesert’, combined exhibition
at Gallery 2021,Auckland,New Zealand.

2001   Group exhibition, ‘Recounting the Essence of Life -  Art from
Australia’. Artforum HDZ, Bad Oeynhausen, Germany. (In
cooperation with Aboriginal Art  Galerie, Bähr,Speyer)

Group travelling exhibition, ‘Mythology & Reality’ Palazzo
B Richerasio Turin, Italy; AAM Utrecht, Netherlands; Monash
    University Prato Centre, Italy; Jerusalem Centre for the
    Performing Arts, Israel; SH Ervin Gallery, Sydney, NSW.; Heide
    Museum of Modern Art, Melbourne, VIC.

2002 Mixed Utopia exhibition at Knut Grothe Galeri in Charlottlenlund

April 2002 ‘Paintings From Utopia’- combined exhibition at ‘Framed- The Darwin Gallery’,Darwin,NT

2002 Mixed Utopia exhibition at Galerie a Le Temps Du Reve, France.

2002 ’Contemporary Aboriginal Art From The Utopia Region’- combined exhibition at BMGART,Adelaide, SA.

2002  Group exhibition, ‘The Craft and the Light, Art of Australia’,
   Neuer Kunstverein Aschaffenburg, Germany, (in Co-operation
   with the Aboriginal Art Galerie Bähr,Speyer).

2002    ‘Images and Identity’, Ev. Akademie Iserlohn, Germany(in
     Cooeperation with the Aboriginal Art Galerie Bähr,Speyer)

2002 Solo exhibition, ‘Leaves You Thinking’, World Vision of Australia, Walkabout Gallery,Sydney, NSW.

2002 ‘Generations Utopia’- mixed exhibition at Japingka Gallery,
 Fremantle,Perth,Western Australia.

2002 Solo exhibition of Aknangkere Growth paintings at Gallery
 Savah, Sydney, NSW.

2002 Group Exhibition, Utopia Art,Sydney, NSW.

2002 Group exhibition, ‘Crossroads: The Millennium Portfolio of Aboriginal Prints’,Singapore Art Museum,Singapore.

2003 ‘ Big Country’. Works from the FlindersUniversityArt Museum
collection, Flinders University City Gallery,Adelaide, SA.

2003   ‘The Other Side of the Land, Art from Central Australia’, Group Exhibition,Berlin,Germany(in cooperation with the Aboriginal Art Galerie Bähr,Speyer).

2003   Solo exhibition, ‘Sydney Art Fair’, Gallery Savah,Sydney, NSW.

2004    Group Exhibition, ‘Sanjski cas. Dreamtime’, Cankarjev dom,

2004  Bilderwelten in Utopia. Holzschnitte und Gemaelde vom
 Aborigines, Staedtisches Kunstmuseum Spendhaus Reutlingen,    Kunstmuseum Bayreuth, Germany, (in cooperation with the
 Aboriginal Art Galerie Bähr,Speyer).

2004  Die inneren und die äußeren Dinge. Stadtgalerie Bamberg Villa
Dessauer,Bamberg,Germany, (in cooperation with the Aboriginal    Art Galerie Bähr,Speyer) ..

2005 Solo exhibition, ‘Recent Paintings’, Gallery Savah, Sydney,     NSW.

2005 ‘Summer in the Desert’  Group Exhibition, Hogarth Galleries,
Sydney, NSW.

2005-2006 WithAdaPetyarre, ‘Black Abstract’,WoolloongabbaArtGallery and  touring,Brisbane, QLD.

2006 Group exhibition, APS Bendi Lango Art Exhibition, Rio Tinto
 Offices, Melbourne, VIC.

2007 Group  exhibition, ‘Utopia inNew York’.Robert Steele Gallery,New York,USA.

2007 Group exhibition, ‘Utopia’, AustralianEmbassy,Washington,USA.

2007 Group exhibition, ‘Desert Diversity’,FlindersLaneGallery, Melbourne, VIC.

2007 Group exhibition, ‘Treasures of the Spirit – Investment in Aboriginal Art’, Tandanya Cultural Institute,Adelaide, SA.

Sep 2007 Group exhibition, APS Bendi Lango Art Exhibition with Rio Tinto, Fireworks Gallery,Brisbane, QLD.

2007  ’New Works from Utopia’, Space Gallery,Pittsburgh,PA,USA.

2008 ’Utopia Revisited’, NG Art Gallery, Chippendale, NSW. 


Allen, Allen & Hemsley;
Art Bank Sydney;
Art Gallery of New South Wales;
Art Gallery of Western Australia;
Australian National Gallery;
Campbelltown City Art Gallery;
Flinders University, South Australia;
Gold Coast City Art Gallery;
Griffith University Collection;
Holmes a Court Collection;
Kerry Stokes Collection;
Mornington Peninsula Regional Gallery;
Museum of Victoria, Melbourne;
National Gallery of Victoria;
Powerhouse Museum, Sydney;
Queensland Art Gallery;
Queensland University of Technology;
Riddoch Art Gallery, S.A.;
Supreme Court, Brisbane;
The Robert Holmes a Court Collection;
University of New South Wales;
Wadsworth Atheneum, Hartford, U.S.A.;
Westpac, New York;
James D. Wolfensohn Collection;
Woollongong City Art Gallery;
Woollongong University Collection;
Macquarie Bank;
University of the Sunshine Coast, Queensland;
Singapore Art Museum;
Museums and Art Galleries of the Northern Territory;
British Museum.


About the Petyarre Sisters:

The Petyarre sisters stand unique as a group of women who have, as a family, dominated women’s art inAustraliafor two decades. 

‘The seven Petyarre sisters of the Utopia area of Central Australiahave, since the early 1990’s, all become painters of significance.  Some are full- and others half-sisters, with four different mothers and one father.  They are Ada Bird (b.1930), Myrtle (b. c.1932) Nancy(b. 1934), Violet (b. 1938), Gloria (b. 1945), Kathleen (b. 1940), Jean (b. c. 1950) and Rosemary Petyarre (b. 1965).  The Petyarre sisters share the same dreaming of the Mountain or Thorny Devil Lizard (arnkerrth) – the patterns and colours of which change as camouflage, depending on the background patterns of its environment.  The sisters are thus able to depict myriad designs, all under this dreaming which they interpret along with others based on awelye (women’s body design) and a large variety of bush foods and other subjects.  The works of all the sisters were shown together for the first time in Seven Sisters Petyarre, Brisbane City Gallery, 2002).’

Source:  The New McCullochs Encyclopedia of Australian Art, Section Australian Aboriginal Art and Artists, (page 132,) Petyarre Sisters:  by Alan McCulloch, Susan McCulloch, Emily McCulloch Childs.

Jive Art Update: AdaBird Petyarre passed away in July 2009.  In November 2009 Nancy Petyarre also passed away.

Bush Medicine Leaves 2015 by Gloria Petyarre

Bush Medicine Leaves

Gloria Petyarre

Acrylic on Linen

110 x 202 cm


A spectacular example of this most recognisable of Aboriginal art Dreamings.