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Sharon Numina

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Bush Medicine is an important subject for many paintings by Aboriginal women. For many thousands of years, Aboriginal people have known about the healing qualities of plants. The gathering of these plants, their use in traditional medicine, and the performance of ceremonies to ensure their abundance form a strong component of the spiritual responsibilities of Aboriginal women.

The medicine bush leaves depicted were originally of the Kurrajong tree of which there are some 30 varieties dating back 50 million years.  They scale from small shrubs to massive trees some 30 metres in height.

In the larger trees their trunks are used to store water but it is the leaves that have the medicinal purposes.

The paste is used to heal a multitude of afflictions such as bites, wounds, skin infections, rashes and skin cancer.  The bush leaves are also boiled in hot water to make an infusion, or healing tea.

Other preparations were used as insect repellent or were thrown into the water to stun the fish

“Bush Medicine Dreaming” paintings are one way to sustain this traditional knowledge. They often depict the leaves of the plants used in medicine with thick brush strokes. Small dots can represent seeds such as native millet or grass seed which are used in medicine and also an important part of the traditional food supply. Paintings depict various parts of the process of collecting, preparing, and using these healing medicines; they also illustrate and maintain the ceremonial responsibilities for their abundance.

The women artists from the Utopia region celebrate bush medicine in many of their paintings.

Sharon Numina

C/No. 16421 – 93 x 123 cm Acrylic on Canvas

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