As the Register at Kate Owen Gallery I take an immense pleasure in receiving and displaying new works from Utopian women Rosemary Petyarre (Pitjara), Gloria Tamerre Petyarre (Pitjara) and Jeannie Petyarre (Pitjara) (Petyarre does not signify a surname, rather a skin group within the Anmatyerre language).
Situated almost three hundred kilometres north–east of Alice Springs (In The Northern Territory) Utopia, a former cattle station, became renowned in the 1970’s for its batik: a skill passed down from a group of women (including Rosemary Petyarre) who had travelled to Indonesia to learn different techniques in textile designs.
Rosemary, Gloria and Jeannie’s artwork all encompass the same theme of the “Bush Medicine Leaves” receiving international and domestic recognition, and exhibiting in collections in France, the Netherlands and the United Kingdom.
Medicine leaves are traditionally used in the alleviation of skins ailments and it is little wonder that their painted representations have become popular in Western Art Therapy for their calming qualities, and rejuvenating aesthetic. The leaves are traditionally dried on the desert floor, and drank hot in a ceremony overseen by a bush doctor; the artworks encapsulate the process of drying out the leaves, with a repetitive pattern creating an optical allusion: capturing the traditional imagery and symbology of Utopian culture.
These expressive and gestural works invoke a sense of fluidity and energy, brought on through their vibrant colour and lively composition.