Janet Golder Kngwarreye - BUSH LEAVES JG1805

Janet Golder Kngwarreye Bush Leaves Australian Aboriginal Art Painting on canvas JG1805


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Artist: Janet Golder Kngwarreye
Skin Name: Kngwarreye
Born: c.1973
Region: Utopia NT
Language: Anmatyerre
Subjects and Themes(Dreaming): Awelye & Bush Medicine



Janet Golder Kngwarreye was born on 15th November 1973 and is the daughter of Margaret Golder and Sammy Pitjara. Janet is an Anmatyerre woman from the Utopia region in Central Australia. She grew up at Mulga Bore in the

Utopia region surrounded by her family and kin. Utopia is renowned for its development and nurturing of extremely talented Aboriginal artists including, Emily Kame Kngwarreye. Janet’s grandfather is Old Henry Pitjara and her grandmothers include Angelina Ngale and Polly Ngale, both of whom are notable artists. Her uncle is Greeny Purvis Petyarre (who sadly passed away in 2010), another well known, talented and collectable artist.

Janet began painting in 1997 and was taught the skills of art depiction by her family. She is married to fellow artist Ronnie Bird Jungala who is the grandson of famous Petyarre Sister, Ada Bird Petyarre (who sadly passed away in 2010). Together Janet and Ronnie have four children.

Janet is an emerging artist who shows promising talent, she predominantly depicts “Awelye” or ceremonial body paint using fine dot work and linear patterns. Central Art has some bright and colourful examples of her “Awelye” designs which she painted between 2003 and 2008. She is known for her depictions of Bush Medicine, in her artworks she depicts the leaves of particular plants found in Central Australia which contain medicinal properties. Traditionally women would gather the leaves, boil them and add a resin and use this paste to

treat a variety of ailments. Both men and women have important roles to play within the community as healers. Janet also has the appropriate cultural knowledge and permission to depict the Dreamtime stories of the Mountain Devil Lizard and Emu.

Her artworks are colourful and creative, adding her own personal touch to these Dreamtime stories which have become famous by Utopian artists since the 1980’s during the Utopian art movement. Through her work with several art galleries around Australia, Janet has participated in several overseas group exhibitions and some of her artwork is held in the Mbantua Gallery’s permanent collection.



  • 2008, “A Women’s Exhibition”, Red Rock Gallery, Beijing, China.
  • 2008, “2nd Gallery Opening”, Red Rock Gallery, Beijing, China.
  • 2004, Mbantua Gallery USA exhibitions, Knoxville & Tennessee, USA.
  • 2003, Mbantua Gallery USA exhibitions, Knoxville, Nashville & Portland, USA.
  • 2002, Mbantua Gallery USA exhibitions, Knoxville, Nashville & Portland, USA.




  • Mbantua Gallery Permanent Collection.



This painting represents the Leaves that were traditionally used for medicine. This practice was used long before western medicine was introdused to the aboriginal people.

The bush medicine leaves are collected by the women and are highly prized for their restorative powers as part of traditional health practices.

Bush medicine leaves derive from a particular native shrub which grows abundantly in the desert regions of Utopia, north-east of Alice Springs. During the life of the plant, the leaves change colour and exhibit different medicinal properties. The artists who paint this story represent the leaves as they float to the ground, and they employ a range of brush strokes and colours to represent the leaves at different times of the year.

When the leaves of the shrub are green they are gathered by the women and ground up using a stone. Then the medicine leaf compound is mixed with water to form a milky solution, which can be used to cure coughs, colds and flu-like symptoms.

Also the medicine leaves can be collected and boiled to extract the resin, which is then mixed together with kangaroo fat. The paste that is created can be stored for six months in bush conditions. This resulting medicine can then be used to heal cuts, wounds, bites, rashes and spread as an insect repellent.

The bush medicine leaves can also be made into a mixture to apply to aching joints or to place on the temples to cure headaches. Like all aspects of traditional Aboriginal culture, knowledge of bush medicine has been passed down from generation to generation over thousands of years, and is still being used today by the people of Utopia.

In painting the Bush Medicine Leaf story, the artist pays homage to the spirit of the medicinal plant. By creating its image the artist encourages the regeneration of the bush medicine plant, so that her people can continue to benefit from its healing powers.


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