Purple Bush Medicine Leaves – Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Women and Medicine project

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Buy your very own 'Bush Medicine Leaves' design

AND support Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Women and Medicine

About The Project

The Australian Federation of Medical Women (AFMW) was pleased to contribute a fabric square to the International Collage for the Centennial of the Medical Women’s International Association, celebrated in New York in July 2019.

The contribution has evolved into the AFMW Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Women and Medicine Project.

The AFMW Fabric Square entitled “Purple Bush Medicine Leaves”, was painted by emerging indigenous artist, Louise Numina Napananka. The colours of the motif on the square reflect those of the AFMW logo, including the purple of the suffragette movement from around the time MWIA was established.

Louise has painted the Bush Medicine motif, as taught and pioneered by her auntie, Gloria Petyarre, renowned Aboriginal artist from Utopia, Central Australia. This piece of Louise’s art differs from that of her famous auntie, in that it contains both small and large leaves. The Utopian Artists are a collective of indigenous women from the heart of Australia, who paint the Bush Medicine Leaves to convey traditional medical practices, and pass these skills on across the generations. Whilst painting the fabric square, Louise agreed to be videoed, and she tells the story of Bush Medicine Dreaming in her own language – Anmatyerre. This video is available here.

The bush medicine leaves are a traditional medicine, collected from an abundant shrub in the desert, and highly prized for their restorative powers. The leaves change colour as they dry and fall to the ground. They can be ground into a milky substance, or boiled to obtain a resin that is combined with kangaroo fat to create a long lasting balm. The Dreaming Story pays homage to the plant, encouraging it to grow and replenish the leaves for further use.

Pia du Pradal, a highly acclaimed Brisbane designer, was instrumental in connecting us with Louise regarding the AFMW fabric square contribution. Since 2017, Pia has featured Louise’s art in exclusive fabric for quality clothing made in a Brisbane studio. Pia has dressed Australia’s leading women for some of the most significant events in Australia’s history, including Dame Quentin Bryce, when she was present for the installation of Julia Gillard as Australia’s first female prime minister. Pia’s work was recently commended at Australia’s premier fashion event, Mercedes Benz Fashion Week.

In collaboration with Louise Numina Napananka and Pia du Pradal, scarves made from fabric with the Purple Bush Medicine Leaves pattern are available below.

In addition to purchasing from this collection, we encourage you to use this opportunity to donate to the AFMW Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Women and Medicine Project.

This project’s aims are to:

  • achieve parity in the representation of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Medical professionals, particularly Medical Women
  • foster leadership development in First Nation Medical Women through attendance at National and International Medical Women’s events, with support from allocations by the Project.

Funds raised for this Project, will be distributed on the basis of merit and need at the AFMW National Council meeting in November.

Please note that, although AFMW is a registered charity, donations made to our organisation are not tax deductible. Please contact AFMW with any queries.

This project was kick-started by a generous donation. If you would like to donate to AFMW, contact us by email here.

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