#SolidScience – Aboriginal Art

As with all other things to do with Indigenous culture, Indigenous art has a very rich and vast history.

Archaeologists have been able to date rock art as far back as 60000 years. Depicting life as it was with ochres painted on rocks, bark, sand, and even their own bodies. The use of these symbols was a way of writing down stories with cultural significance.

Rock art was used to pass down information to preserve culture and keep it thriving for the next generation. This artwork appears in many caves and on large rocks outside all over the country. The artwork was depicted in many different forms such as painting with ochre by mixing it with water to produce a paint-like substance to either paint with their hands or hand stencil by blowing the mixture over the hand pressed against the rock, using charcoal to draw, and rock carving and engraving.

Albert Namatjira is one of the most well-known Indigenous Artists, he had the first ever exhibition of Aboriginal art showcased in Adelaide in 1937. In the early 70s, a school teacher named Geoffrey Bardon was working with Aboriginal children in Papunya, near Alice Springs.  He noticed whilst the Aboriginal men were telling stories they would draw symbols in the sand. He encouraged them to paint the stories onto canvas and board. This kick-started the famous Aboriginal art movement with many traditional stories being now wonderfully displayed on canvases.  

During the 1980s the general opinion on Indigenous art changed and it was seen as something valuable in the eyes of museums and collectors.  Different types of modern Indigenous art are dot-painting, cross-hatching, bush medicine leave, and color field. Indigenous art is now regarded as the most exciting contemporary art form of the 20th Century.

Amazing stories told through striking visuals, Indigenous art is something that is very important to the people. Conveying these stories in one of the brightest and most beautiful ways possible, keeping the culture strong.  

Taj Mamid – Midwest Aboriginal Ranger Program Administration Support Officer

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