Betty Muffler was born in 1944 near Watarru, close to the border of South and Western Australia. As a child, Betty Muffler survived the British atomic testing conducted in Maralinga and Emu Junction, where many of her close family died on Country from the catastrophic after-effects of the tests, including contaminated drinking water. The devastating impact this event had on her family and their ancestral Country has left a lifelong impact on Betty Muffler that she addresses through her Ngangkari (traditional healer) practice and describes within her paintings.
Betty Muffler is a renowned and highly sought after Ngangkari, a practice she inherited and learnt from her father and aunties. She has worked as a Ngangkari across Australia, from remote Indigenous community clinics to hospitals in capital cities. In addition to her Ngangkari work alongside medical professionals, Betty Muffler has also given presentations at universities, medical conferences, and hospitals across Australia, sharing her knowledge of traditional healing practices in the context of contemporary Western medicine.
In 2017, at the esteemed age of 73, Betty Muffler won the Emerging Artist Award at the Telstra National Aboriginal & Torres Strait Islander Art Award (NATSIAA). Betty Muffler’s dynamic paintings are included in many private and public collections, her works have been featured in both the 2015 and 2017 TARNANTHI exhibitions at the Art Gallery of South Australia. In 2018 Betty Muffler was shortlisted for the prestigious John Fries Award.
In 2020, Betty Muffler was announced as a finalist in the prestigious 37th Telstra National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Art Awards Exhibition, Museum and Art Gallery of the Northern Territory, Darwin. In the same year, she also participated in the exhibition TARNANTHI: Festival of Contemporary Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Art at Musée des Beaux-Arts de Rennes, Brittany, France.
In 2021, Betty Muffler and Maringka Burton presented new work at the Art Gallery of New South Wales, Sydney, as part of The National 2021: New Australian Art. They were both announced as finalists for the Wynne Prize at the Art Gallery of New South Wales for their collaborative work Ngangkari ngura (healing country). In this year Betty Muffler was also shortlisted for the Hadley’s Art Prize presented by Hadley’s Orient Hotel in Hobart, Tasmania and for the 2021 Bayside Acquisitive Art Prize, presented by the Bayside Gallery at the Brighton Town Hall, Melbourne.
© The Artist, Iwantja Arts and Alcaston Gallery, Melbourne 2021
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