Margaret Turner Petyarre: Exploring Her Artistic Legacy

Margaret Turner Petyarre, a prominent Aboriginal artist, left an indelible mark on the world of art with her captivating works. In this article, we will delve into the life and artistry of Margaret Turner Petyarre, with a particular focus on her masterpiece, "Bush Medicine Leaves."

Early Life and Background

Margaret Turner Petyarre was born in 1945 in Lake Nash, Northern Territory, situated approximately 570 km east of Tennant Creek near the border of Queensland, Australia. She hailed from the Anmatyerre community and was deeply connected to her Indigenous heritage.

Artistic Expression and Dreaming's

Margaret's artistic journey was deeply rooted in her cultural heritage, and her creations were a reflection of her ancestral Dreaming's. She was particularly known for her depictions of Women's Dreaming, Body Paint (Awelye), Bush Medicine, and Bush Tucker, including Bush Orange.

Transition to the Utopia Region

While Margaret was born in Lake Nash, she spent most of her life in the Utopia Region. This transition allowed her to immerse herself in the rich cultural tapestry of the region and further develop her artistic prowess.

A Legacy Carried Forward

Margaret Turner Petyarre's legacy lives on through her daughter, Marcia Turner Petyarre, who is also a respected artist. Marcia continues to convey the stories and traditions passed down to her by her mother, ensuring that Margaret's artistic heritage endures.

Margaret's Artistic Evolution

Margaret's journey as an artist evolved significantly over the years. She initially participated in the Summer Batik project in 1988, which not only showcased her talent locally but also gained international recognition. Her artworks from this period are now cherished parts of the Homes a Court Collection.

Bush Medicine Depictions

One of Margaret's most captivating artistic themes was Bush Medicine. In her paintings, she masterfully captured the essence of the leaves of various plants, each possessing unique healing properties. These leaves were used to treat a wide range of ailments, showcasing the deep knowledge and connection to the land that is a hallmark of Indigenous cultures.

Healing Practices

The process of using Bush Medicine leaves was intricate. They were often boiled, and the resulting liquid was consumed as a remedy. Additionally, these leaves were fashioned into poultices and applied directly to the body. In some cases, the leaves were burned, and the smoke was inhaled, serving both as a treatment for respiratory illnesses and a means to ward off malevolent spirits.

Transition to Acrylic on Canvas

Margaret's artistic journey evolved further when she transitioned from Batik to acrylic on canvas. This shift in medium allowed her to explore new dimensions of her artistry while staying true to her cultural roots.

A Lasting Impact

Margaret Turner Petyarre's art can be found in private and public galleries across Australia and internationally. Her ability to seamlessly blend tradition with contemporary artistry has left an enduring impact on the art world.

A Note on Cultural Respect

In Aboriginal culture, it is customary not to use a deceased person's name or share digital images of them. Though we do not have images of Margaret, we honor her legacy by acknowledging her name in association with her artwork.

The "Bush Medicine Leaves" Painting

Margaret's masterpiece, "Bush Medicine Leaves," is a testament to her artistic brilliance. Measuring 87.5cm x 69cm, this acrylic on canvas painting is a vivid representation of her deep connection to the land and its healing properties. Margaret herself signed the painting, and a photo of it is available upon request.

89CM x 69CM

89CM x 145CM


89CM x 69CM

Margaret Turner Petyarre's contributions to the world of art are immeasurable. Her ability to fuse culture, tradition, and contemporary artistry has left an indelible mark. Through her art, she continues to inspire and educate people about the richness of Indigenous

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