A renowned ngangkari (traditional healer)

Betty Muffler was born near Watarru in South Australia and now lives and works in Indulkana in theAṉangu Pitjantjatjara Yankunytjatjara(APY) Lands. She is a highly respected senior woman and artist at Iwantja Arts, with her practice spans painting, drawing, printmaking and sculpture. Muffler is also a renowned ngangkari (traditional doctor), a practice that has been handed down through her father’s family and taught to her by her aunties. Alongside her rigorous art practice, she works extensively with Ngaanyatjarra Pitjantjatjara Yankunytjatjara (NPY) Women’s Council and other medical practitioners to support Aṉangu to good health and through times of crisis.

Muffler grew up at the Ernabella Mission in Pukatja in the APY Lands, following the displacement and death of family members in the aftermath of the British nuclear testing at Maralinga and Emu Field in the middle of last century. Witnessing the devastation of country and surviving this experience motivates her recurring depiction of healing sites, and the intensity of her connection to these places is the subject of her paintings entitled Ngangkari Ngura (Healing Country).

Betty Muffler at Iwantja Creek, 2020; image courtesy the artist and Iwantja Arts; photo: Meg Hansen.

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Betty Muffler, Pitjantjatjara people, South Australia, born 1944, near Watarru, South Australia, Ngangkaṟi Ngura (Healing Country), 2020, Indulkana, South Australia, pigmented ink on paper, 122.0 x 152.0 cm; Courtesy the artist and Iwantja Arts, © Betty Muffler/Iwantja Arts, photo: Grant Hancock.

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