May 26, 2022 / by Emma Jones

Where did Australian Aboriginal artwork come from?

Between 60,000 and 80,000 years ago is when Aboriginal culture began to develop. The oldest evidence of Aboriginal ethos or philosophy can be found in still visible rock art from around 20,000 years ago. Rocks were painted with ochres. There were traditional means of communication used by Aboriginal Australians.

Oral storytelling and song, as well as visual communication through drawing, painting, and ceremonial design, were all used. Although there was no written language, many people survived by remembering where they might find food and water at different times of the year. Maps of the country with major sites are frequently painted by Aboriginal artists.

When did Aboriginal art start to gain popularity?

aboriginal arts

Outsiders were mainly kept in the dark about traditional culture until the 1970s when Geoffrey Bardon, a teacher, spent 18 months in Papunya, a remote Aboriginal settlement 240 kilometres west of Alice Springs. He persuaded a gathering of tribal elders to meet and decide which stories should be painted and shared with outsiders.

The elders saw this as a means to share their culture’s story while also earning money for their communities. Following Papunya’s success, Indigenous people all around Australia began to create aboriginal arts that are absolutely stunning and a great addition to your home’s interior design with pieces of spiritual significance.

What is the significance of Aboriginal arts?

What is the significance of Aboriginal arts

The contemporary art movement has served as a vital link between Aboriginal and Western cultures. It also serves as a link between the ancient and modern worlds. It has also sparked a strong desire to preserve an Indigenous culture which in the greater picture is a success story for the whole of humanity around the globe. Plus, making art has become a critical source of income for many isolated tribes, as well as a source of pride for the entire community.

Because many Indigenous people have an amazing aptitude for composition, colour, and visual storytelling, the Contemporary Aboriginal Art movement garnered worldwide notice. Their art seemed to be a common language, and it was inspired by strong spiritual ideas. The traditional Creation stories that inspire most of the art reveal a deep connection to the earth. It is both visually and emotionally astounding.

Hundreds of isolated Australian villages and metropolitan Aboriginal artists are producing a diverse range of artworks. Supporting Aboriginal art helps to preserve the language and culture of Aboriginal families who choose to live in isolated regions near their ancestral grounds. These organizations are the primary contributors to the art displayed in galleries and museums across the country.

Aboriginal symbols, storytelling, and dreamwork

Because Australian Aboriginal people do not have a written language, their essential cultural stories are passed down through the centuries through symbols and images in their artwork. It is critical to pass on knowledge to preserve their culture. Symbols are an alternative to writing down culturally significant stories and teaching survival and land usage. They are utilized as a chronicle to pass down Aboriginal knowledge of the land, events, and beliefs.

Depending on the audience, different interpretations of the iconography are given. When presented to children, the story would be simplified to emphasize the educational and behavioural aspects. Behind the story, there could be a mix of knowledge and moral lessons. The youngsters are taught the difference between right and wrong, as well as the repercussions of good and poor behaviour. When teaching to initiated elders, however, the stories would be interpreted in a totally different and higher-level form.

The Dreaming’s Creation Law, which establishes traditional Aboriginal people’s identity and their connection to the land, lies at the centre of Aboriginal culture and thus of Aboriginal art. For Aboriginal people, Dreamtime is one translation of Creation time; other titles commonly used include Jukurrpa and Tingari; the term used differs depending on the local language. Many Aboriginal painters depict elements of their Dreaming, which is a part of their culture and identity.

What colour palette are the artists using?

Aboriginal art

The Aboriginal arts were initially coloured with local resources, such as ochre or iron clay pigments for red, yellow, and white, and charcoal for black. These four colours were the foundation of the artists’ colour range when the modern desert art movement began in 1971, referring to the traditional role of art in ritual, body painting, sand painting, storytelling, and educating.

Smoke greys, saltbush mauves, and sage greens were immediately adopted as naturalistic colours. With the arrival of more Aboriginal women painters in the mid-1980s, the artists began to use a larger variety of modern colours, and vibrant desert paintings began to appear on the market. For some groups, the choice of colour and its different shades remains an indicator of style – Papunya Tula prefers soft earth colours, whereas Western Desert Communities choose bold vivid colours.

Are the paintings of Aboriginal people maps of the land?

Aerial perspectives are common in desert Aboriginal art, allowing the artist’s imagination to fly over the area and examine both naturalistic and metaphysical patterns – these are the Songlines or Dreaming trails left by the spirit Ancestors during the Creation period. These maps can also include information about water sources and bush tucker locations. Aerial views are typical of a hunter-gatherer society, which closely examines the earth’s surface for indications of life, follows animals, and recognizes recent activities.