Explore Indigenous Australian Aboriginal Art Culture Facts
Art is a central part of the life of Australian aborigines and takes many forms. Much of the most important knowledge of aboriginal society was conveyed through different kinds of storytelling including narratives that were spoken, performed as dances or songs, and those that were painted.
Australian Aboriginal culture is widely seen as one of the oldest known living cultures on Earth.Aboriginal people have long found spiritual inspiration for their Indigenous art. Over thousands of years Australia’s Aboriginal people have successfully adapted to a changing Australian environment and survived the impact of European colonization. Discover it the same way Aboriginal Australians have passed it down for at least 50,000 years – through art, dance, myths, music and the land itself. See indigenous Aboriginal art and contemporary dance in the cities. Or head to the outback and listen to Dreamtime myths of creation by the campfire. Bushwalk and snorkel, share bush-tucker or learn to craft spears and catch fish in the traditional way. Let Aboriginal Australians help you understand this ancient land and its spirituality and wonder. Australian Aborigines have been employing the careful arrangement of soils and sands of different textures and colours to create pictures whose patterns and symbolism relate to the stories and myths of the Australian Aboriginal’s ancestral tribal and cultural history – their Dreamtime. The Dreamtime is the sacred world of the tribe’s ancestral spirits whom the Aboriginals regard as the creators of all living things. There are many indigenous Aboriginal artists who work with convential western materials such as acrylics, canvas or board to create beautiful visual effects, at the cutting edge of modern art, but who have synthesised old traditional imagery to conventional techniques.
Arnhem Land Art
In Arnhem Land, the Aborigines or Yolngu, still live in the traditional way, hunting, fishing and performing ceremonies that can go from days to sometimes weeks. Arnhem Land indigenous art is distinguished by the cross-hatching or ‘raark’ design.
Western Desert Paint Art
The Western Desert painters are a group of Australian indigenous Aboriginal artists who have adapted their tribal art forms to the western world but only with regard to the western materials and techniques which they employ, the subject matter remains tightly focused on the stories and imagery which was passed down to them by their tribal ancestors.
Tiwi of Bathurst and Melville Islands Art
The Tiwi of Bathurst and Melville Islands tend to paint vibrantly coloured crosshatched and dotted non-figurative designs. The Aboriginal designs are painted on bark baskets (tungas), carved ironwood sculptures and other cultural material which features in Pukumani mortuary ceremonies.
Groote Eylandt Art
Groote Eylandt bark paintings are highly distinctive in the way that figures are shown against a black background, more recent works have the background filled with crosshatched designs.
Elcho Island Painting Art
Elcho Island, north east Arnhem Land, works are bold and strong. Cross-hatching can often fill the area and figures are painted in black.
Oenpelli Xray art Depict
In Oenpelli, the Xray art depicts the internal organs of an animal, which not only provides anatomical tuition for the young but it also informs that all parts of the animal are equally important, and that those interwoven individual parts are collectively the whole!
Aboriginal Art Facts
- Aboriginal art is based on important ancient stories: even contemporary & indigenous Aboriginal art, is based on stories (Jukurrpa) and symbols centred on ‘the Dreamtime’ – the period in which Indigenous people believe the world was created.
- Aboriginal art also stands as a written language: Aboriginal art is a major part of the unwritten ‘encyclopedia’ of being an Aboriginal person and as such it may have many layers of meaning.
- Paintings are also used for teaching: A painting (in effect a visual story) is often used by the aboriginal people for different purposes, and the interpretations of the iconography (symbols) in the artwork can vary according to the audience.
- Painting on Bark is the oldest form of Aboriginal art but many bark paintings have perished over time. Not only is the bark prone to decay and disintegration, but the ochre paints too need a stable substrade (base on which to paint) to lengthen their own relatively short life.
- Artists need permission to paint a particular story: Where ancient and important stories are concerned, and particularly those containing secret or sacred information, an artist must have permission to paint the story she or he paints.
- Indigenous Aboriginal art on canvas and board only began 40 years ago: Traditionally, the paintings we now see on canvas, were scratched or drawn on rock walls, used in body paint or on ceremonial articles and importantly, drawn in sand or dirt accompanied by the song or story.
- Dots were used to hide secret information: Dot painting in the main, began when the Aboriginal people became concerned that white man would be able to see and understand their sacred and private knowledge.
- Aboriginal artworks can qualify for both galleries and museums: The Australian Aboriginal is the longest surviving (so we could say ‘most successful’) culture the world has seen, and their culture is complex and centred on long term survival in a hostile environment.
- The highest priced Aboriginal Artworks so far were painted by Clifford Possum Tjapaltjarri for the work ‘Warlugulong’ which sold in 2007 to the National Gallery of Australia (NGA) for a tidy sum of $2.4 million dollars.
- Indigenous Aboriginal art has fostered cultural revival in an extremely good way for the Indigenous people. Coming out of the dark ages of prejudice and misunderstanding on the part of the ‘whitefeller’, love of Indigenous art, and our willingness to pay for it, has given Australia’s Aboriginal people a greater degree of self respect and standing and an important source of income.
Ceduna Aboriginal Arts And Culture Centre
The Ceduna Arts and Cultural Centre has a wide range of Aboriginal art, including original paintings, quality didgeridoos, boomerangs, and genuine Aboriginal and non Aboriginal gifts. Opening in 2001, the centre provides new skills workshops, training, materials, a working environment and facilities for the production of Indigenous visual arts. It is also an important venue for the promotion and selling of individual artists work. The centre has given Indigenous artists as far as Oak Valley, Maralinga, Yalata, Koonibba and Ceduna somewhere to display and sell their indigenous art works creating additional indirect flow-ons into the Aboriginal communities.