Abo­rig­i­nal Art: The finest Abo­rig­i­nal art for sale

Where Sydney - - Contents - BY SU­SAN GOUGH HENLY

ev­ery part of the coun­try. Each has its own lan­guage and com­plex be­lief sys­tem that ex­plains the uni­verse and the place of peo­ple within it.

Be­cause there are so many dis­tinc­tive Abo­rig­i­nal cul­tures there is also a great di­ver­sity of artis­tic styles and me­dia, from the well-known dot paint­ings of the West­ern Desert to the West­ern Kim­ber­ley’s ghost-like Wand­jina creation an­ces­tors with huge mouth­less faces.

Tra­di­tional Abo­rig­i­nal art prac­ti­tion­ers do not see them­selves as artists but as sto­ry­tellers. Since there are no writ­ten lan­guages, the mak­ing of art­works is all about shar­ing a spir­i­tual as­so­ci­a­tion with a spe­cific land­scape or ‘coun­try’, as well as com­mu­ni­cat­ing obli­ga­tions to this ‘coun­try’ through Dream­ing sto­ries and Song­lines. The Dream­time de­scribes the time of creation when enor­mous mythic crea­tures roamed the Earth cre­at­ing land­forms and de­cid­ing which peo­ple could live in each spe­cial place.

The sto­ries are told via many dif­fer­ent me­dia. Tra­di­tion­ally, there was rock art, sand and body paint­ings as well as ochre bark paint­ings, wood carv­ings and fi­bre weav­ing, the lat­ter por­ta­ble art still avail­able to­day.

Con­tem­po­rary Abo­rig­i­nal art us­ing West­ern acrylics on can­vas be­gan as re­cently as 1971 in the re­mote town­ship of Pa­punya, west of Alice Springs, when a teacher named Ge­of­frey Bar­don gave some acrylics to men in the com­mu­nity to paint a mu­ral on the school wall. This was how the West­ern Desert Art move­ment be­gan.

Since then dozens of art cen­tres have de­vel­oped in tiny com­mu­ni­ties from Fitzroy Cross­ing in the Kim­ber­ley to Man­ingreda and Ngukkur in Arn­hem Land. Each has art ad­vis­ers who bring in can­vases and paints and get the art­works to ma­jor ur­ban mar­kets.

Sar­rita King and Tarisse King, “Lan­guages Of The Earth & My Coun­try”, 2016, acrylic on linen, 76 x 105cm, from Abo­rig­i­nal Art Gal­leries.

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