Bush medicine: the art of healing
An important new exhibition celebrates 65,000 years of Indigenous Australian healing practices through contemporary art.
The art of healing: Australian Indigenous bush medicine is open at the University of Melbourne’s Medical History Museum until 29 September and follows the premise of Tjukurpa (Dreaming) and traditional Indigenous healing practice past, present and future.
The exhibition presents healing practices and bush medicine from Indigenous communities across Australia through contemporary art and objects. All works are linked by the strong connection of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples to Country, and the passing down of cultural knowledge to the next generation.
Some of the works were directly commissioned for the exhibition, while others are from existing projects. They use a range of techniques and media, including painting in ochre and acrylic, printmaking, weaving and ceramics. The diversity of styles and materials echoes regional diversity.
Aboriginal writer, artist, mentor and consultant Kat Clarke learned about bush remedies from her grandmothers while growing up in Wotjobaluk country in Victoria’s Western District. Now an Indigenous Student Support Officer in the University of Melbourne’s Faculty of Medicine, Dentistry and Health Sciences Learning and Teaching Unit, Ms Clarke produced five paintings for the exhibition.
They depict gum trees (Eucalyptus), bracken fern (Pteridium esculentum), Australian blackwood (Acacia melanoxylon), kangaroo apple (Solanum aviculare) and old man weed (Centipeda cunninghamii).