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.
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.