Australia n Aborigina l Art Art as a Main Platform for Culture Aboriginal Culture The Australian Aboriginal culture is the oldest continuous culture on the planet. Indigenous people have been in Australia for 40,000 to 60,000 years. They have survived in areas of Australia where we westerners would die in 4 or 5 days if we were left to our own unaided devices.
Art was a commodity in a certain way, it could be traded too but it was really about recording culture and making it strong. Thankfully the emergence of the contemporary Aboriginal art movement has helped preserve these communities, their stories and their knowledge of country for future generations and Indigenous people have been very generous in sharing much of this knowledge and understanding with us via their unique and inspiring Art. A History of Aboriginal Art in Australia Indigenous Aboriginal culture is based on strong ties to the land and documenting the changes, the seasons, the animals and the spirits that reside in nature and in the land. Its not an ownership of land but more a
custodianship. These stories were recorded mostly by drawings on rocks. There were no written Aboriginal languages. The rock pictures were the visual form of communication. This painting tradition continued on, mainly hidden from western influence. It is tucked away in sites in remote locations in caves and on rock carvings. As of late 2015 some Aboriginal art rock paintings are looking like they will be dated and proven to be the oldest art by human beings in the history of the planet by some thousands of years. Western Influence on Aboriginal Art Westerners arrived in Australia in the late 1700s and progressively settled across the land. How the indigenous people were treated varied from region to region.
Given the relentless and debilitating pressure and attack on Aboriginal culture it is not surprising that the indigenous art tradition fell a bit to one side. It became less and less understood, even by some indigenous people, as western influences became increasingly dominant in their lives. The traditional respect for elders was also breaking down because many younger people were not being initiated anymore into the traditional ways. The old people, probably the last generation who were born in the desert, have no birth certificates, they were fully initiated in the traditional ways. They are a A Platform for a Unique Culture Australian Aboriginal art is a unique view into the culture and values of Aboriginal people. Its expansion to reach a much wider audience has allowed a greater awareness of the nature of traditional Aboriginal
world. Australian Aboriginal art is regional in style, it gets its form and content from the local Aboriginal culture which is distinctive from one area to the next. Aboriginal art is based on stories and knowledge that is being passed down through the generations. The stories behind the Aboriginal art works are connected to individuals through family lineages, as groups become custodians for particular parts of cultural events and stories.
Aboriginal art works are often produced Regions of Aboriginal Art Regions have identifiable styles. You can look at a painting and say, oh yes, that ones a Pintupi artist or that ones Warlpiri, or this ones from Utopia. Style is the signature. When you see the cross hatching, each one is subtly different, its like a signature. People have been brought up in art to expect to see the artist signature in the corner. To these artists its not necessary at all because as far as theyre concerned only they can paint that painting. Thats because they are the traditional custodians and that painting could only be done by them because they are the recognized custodian of that particular Dreaming. They
dont have to scribble their name. Color in Aboriginal art is not strictly mandated it does not universally represent a particular meaning or association, and varies between artists and regions. Art in the Aboriginal Family and Community Aboriginal art has different levels of interpretation, with the greater knowledge belonging to elders of the Aboriginal group, who understand the stories in detail. Therefore it is possible for outsiders to understand some aspects of the stories, while more sacred sections may be with- held from descriptions or paintings. Many of the cultural stories relate to traditional practices around bush survival
management of resources and land, water and bush tucker. This is knowledge that is passed down over generations and has been critical for survival for Aboriginal people. Art is well established as a business enterprise for Aboriginal families, particularly in Central and northern Australia. Art skills are passed on in traditional ways, by watching and learning, then by assisting and contributing to other family members, and finally by developing a personal artistic role. A Living Culture The first and second generations of Aboriginal artists were born in the bush and lived close to a traditional nomadic lifestyle. More Aboriginal artists today are born in communities and towns and share both traditional Aboriginal and modern Western values. Contemporary Aboriginal art will reflect an important time in Australia, recording values, marking changes, and reinforcing culture and identity
in Aboriginal groups. Exhibitions around the world have established the unique qualities of Aboriginal art, as a striking confluence of ancient values, modern materials and an abundant wellspring of visual language and symbols. Australian Aboriginal culture is very much alive and evolving and changing and adapting to the 21st century. Part of its strength is that it can adapt and still maintain its integrity. The Emergence of Aboriginal Art From the Eiffel Tower in Paris you can see an artwork on the museum roof of the Muse du Quai Branly. Its a piece by Australian Aboriginal artist Lena Nyadbi. This is a powerful symbol of the level of international respect achieved by the contemporary Australian indigenous art movement.
Create Aboriginal-Style Art! Notice: Limited color palette Primarily painted with dots of color Stylistic design Graphic use of color
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