The Art of Healing: Australian Indigenous Bush Medicine looked at Indigenous healing practice through contemporary art. Using the premise of Tjukurrpa (dreaming), traditional healing techniques from many distinct and varied Indigenous communities throughout Australia were represented.
The exhibition opened on 15 May in the Arcade at Bush House after a successful launch where the exhibition was officially opened by The Hon. George Brandis QC, Australian High Commissioner to the United Kingdom.
The accompanying events programme included a talk and workshop with Ngangkari (traditional healers) and acclaimed artists Rene Kulitja and Pantjiti Lewis from the Ngaanyatjarra Pitjantjatjara Yankunytjatjara Women's Council (NPYWC). There was also an artist talk with Sonal Kantaria discussing her work with prominent Elders in Western Australia.
The Art of Healing was supported by a gallery team of King's students and recent graduates who actively engaged with visitors and gathered feedback about their experiences. The exhibition was attended by over 1,300 visitors and gained 100% positive feedback from those interviewed, with the majority rating the exhibition as 'excellent'.
Visitors said they felt motivated to learn more about Indigenous healing practices and Aboriginal art after visiting the exhibition, with one student saying it was 'inspiring' for their dissertation. Others said the exhibition enhanced their views and imagination about healing practices, helping them to gain a deeper understanding of traditional medicine as an intrinsic part of life for Indigenous people in Australia.
This vital project is long overdue. I am so pleased that I have had the opportunity to see the exhibition.– visitor comment
A lasting testament to the success and impact of this powerful exhibition is the beautiful Tjulpu wiltja: bird nest basket (pictured below) created by Ilawanti Ungkutjuru Ken. Originally commissioned by the University of Melbourne, the piece was kindly gifted to the Menzies Australia Institute at King's College London and is now on display in Bush House's South East reception.
The Art of Healing: Australian Indigenous Bush Medicine, 15 May – 28 June 2019.
The Art of Healing: Australian Indigenous Bush Medicine is a partnership between Menzies Australia Institute at King's, the Poche Centre for Indigenous Health, the Medical History Museum, University of Melbourne and the London exhibition is supported by the university’s Culture team.
Images Alex Lloyd © King’s College London