Bush Medicine Leavesby Margaret Scobie
The painting represents particular leaves from medicinal plant species, which are gathered by the Aboriginal women from Utopia in Central Australia. The leaves are boiled, kangaroo resin added and mixed into a paste, which is used by Aboriginal people as a bush medicine to aid a variety of illnesses.
Margaret Scobie was born in 1948, at this time many Aboriginal people born in this period were given birth dates of the 1st of January as their actual date of birth was unknown. Margaret is an Anmatyerre woman from the Utopia region in Central Australia. She was born at Woola Downs, her mother was siblings with the famous Petyarre sisters (Gloria, Kathleen, and Ada to name a few).
Whilst Margaret did spend time on her traditional homelands as a young child she has spent the majority of her life living in Alice Springs. As a child she attended Ross Park Primary School and whilst she does return to Utopia at times she primarily resides in Alice Springs were she is a well known figure of the community.
Margaret has been painting for the majority of her life. She was introduced to painting during “Awelye” ceremonies. As a tribal woman Margaret would often be involved in the body painting that is involved during these women’s ceremonies whereby the women will apply an ochre paste (traditional paint) to their upper bodies, chest, breasts and shoulders. Awelye ceremonies are a significant feature for Anmatyerre women and involve ceremonies and rituals to pay homage to their ancestors and Dreamings.
Margaret is well known for her “Bush Medicine Leaves” Dreaming paintings; they are vibrant, full of colour and give you the impression of moving leaves in the desert. Whilst her artworks are not considered collectable they are extremely popular. Margaret is a self representing and independent artist and you can often find her at the local Sunday markets with her paintings or outside of the hospital lawns.
Other subjects sometimes covered in her paintings involve the Honey Ant and Mountain Devil, although these are not as popular as her Bush Medicine Leaves. The Bush Medicine Leaves depict the leaves of particular plants which Aboriginal women collect from the Utopia region in Central Australia. The leaves contain medicinal properties and are used for traditional bush medicine. The leaves are boiled and Kangaroo resin added and made into a paste. This is then used to treat wounds, cuts, boils and rashes. This traditional medicine is paid homage during Awelye ceremonies.
Margaret’s paintings are a good alternative to art lovers who appreciate her technique and the beauty of her artworks without having the collectability or price of much more highly sought after artists such as Gloria Petyarre, Minnie Pwerle or the famous Emily Kame Kngwarreye – other female artists from the Utopia region. One must admire Margaret’s determination to be an independent artist and whilst some galleries do have her artworks, for the most part Margaret is in complete control of her artwork, painting and clientele.
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Important copyright notice
The Copyright of all images and documentation remains with Sabine Haider. The Australian Copyright Act protects all artists from unauthorised copying by giving control over original works of art to the artist by law. However depending on the use proposed, Sabine Haider from Central Art – Aboriginal Art Store can facilitate reproduction of works with the permission of the artist as we have developed close relationships over the years with many individual painters and craftspeople.
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