The art of healing: Australian Indigenous bush medicine

Bush medicine

Monday 23 April to Saturday 2 March 2019

The art of healing: Australian Indigenous bush medicine follows the premise of Tjukurrpa (dreaming). It looks at traditional Indigenous healing practice as past, present and future simultaneously. It will present examples of healing practice from the many distinct and varied Indigenous communities throughout Australia. These will be shown through contemporary art practice and examples of plants and medicines. For example, Gija elder and artist Shirley Purdie has spent the last two year illustrating the bush medicine of her region near Warmun in the Kimberly.

Treahna Hamm reveals in Yorta Yorta Bush Medicine First Aid Kit the use of medicinal plants in Victoria. Whereas in Alice Springs the NPY women’s council with their Ngangkari (women healers) have undertaken a mental health program that examines issues contributing to well-being. This also acknowledges and encourages two-way learning: western and traditional practice working hand in hand.

The exhibition will be accompanied by a major catalogue with the perspectives of Indigenous communities represented. The key to this exhibition is revealing that traditional Indigenous healing is a current practice informed by the past, and an intrinsic part of the life of indigenous people in Australia.

The illustrated work by Judith Inkamala from Hermannsburg Potters was commissioned for this exhibition. Here, Judith Pungkarta Inkamala depicts many examples of bush medicine.

"On this pot you can see the old brother walking, the eldest one, the sister in law going to visit the Ngangkara One (Bush Medicine Doctor). They are the eldest and are there to prepare the bush medicine and teach the young ones. The old lady and the old brother will sing, sing, sing and spit into the Bush medicine as they mix it. Singing medicine into the mixture, over the big pot then sing that medicine into the jars. That's why everyone will get better and everyone will become strong". Judith Inkamala

Judith Pugkarta Inkamala, Western Arrarnta born 1948, Bush Medicine 2017, terracotta and underglaze, Medical History Museum, MHM2017.17