Commissioned Artwork “Ngangkari Ngura (Healing Country)” by Aboriginal Artist Betty Muffler Features on Vogue Australia’s Cover

In a worldwide initiative by Vogue, each country in which their magazine is published has ensured their cover for the Vogue September 2020 edition inspires Hope. This initiative saw Vogue Australia collaborate with the National Gallery of Australia to commission the art piece , “Ngangkari Ngura” by Aboriginal Artist, Betty Muffler.

“Ngangkari Ngura” can be translated into Healing Country, which is very apt as artist Betty Muffler is known as a Ngangkari, or healer in her community and her ancestry. The connection between healing and hope is profound, as we heal we regain our hope and look forward with positivity. Healing Country now takes on so many facets, the healing of our country, and our country’s ability to heal, the healing of the people that all call this country home… as with any good artwork, the interpretation is often personal.

From outback South Australia, Betty Muffler, her family and her people grew up facing incomprehensible hardships and adversities.  It was through such times that hope empowered them.  This included nuclear testing that occured in the remote part of South Australia where her community lived.  To get a full understanding of what Betty has faced in her lifetime, check out the article Vogue Australia’s September 2020 ‘Hope’ issue features an artwork by Anangu/Aboriginal Pitjantjatjara artist Betty Muffler.

As an Anangu/Aboriginal Pitjantjatjara woman, Betty Muffler was recognised by the Elders of her community as a Ngangkari, a healer.  As a healer her role is about healing herself, her people and her Country.  This is evident in the title of this commissioned artwork, Ngangkari Ngura or Healing Country.  Having been connected to their land, their Country for tens of thousands of years, the Anangu people have a deeply reverent relationship with the land.  The health of the Country is directly related to Anangu people’s health and wellbeing.  Based on this, many of the cultural rituals, sacred sites and performing the inma (songs and dance handed down) are continued as part of the respect and guardianship of the Country.  This long connection speaks to the entwined relationship between the land, the people and sustainability.

This connection and her role as a Ngangkari has strongly influenced Betty Muffler’s indigenous art works.  Her art is an inspired translation of her Tjukurpa (dreamtime/dreaming stories).  It is her connection with Tjukurpa and her position as a Ngangkari that is shared across the canvas, speaking of her community, her people and the importance of Country.  Her paintings have been described as powerful, resonating with energy.  Her paintings are a journal of her time as a Ngangkari, of the shared stories from ancestors, of healing.  There is a depth, a spirituality here that we white people will never comprehend, but may we be open-minded and appreciative as these stories of old, the connection shared between the indigenous people and this Country.

2020 is a year that will not be forgotten for generations, a year that has seen bushfires ravage the land, floods and a pandemic that has changed the world in just a few months.  Now is the time for healing, the time for “Ngangkari Ngura”.  As we heal we regain hope, both of which are needed as the year starts to draw to a close.

For the Vogue September 2020 cover, Vogue Australia commissioned this amazing piece of Aboriginal Art - Betty Muffler’s Ngangkari Ngura (Healing Country), which is the first ever original piece of fine artwork to appear on the cover of Vogue Australia.  Vogue Australia has gifted this to the National Gallery of Australia where it is currently being displayed.  

In addition to this, you can obtain a print of this amazing Vogue September 2020 cover in various sizes.  A bold, resonating piece painted by the gifted Betty Muffler, a spiritual healer and Aboriginal artist.

October 28, 2020 — Leanne Pearce