Arnhem Land

Tiwi Islands


The development of art centres after WWII has been extremely beneficial to aboriginal culture.

In Papunya (in the Central Desert) most painting was done on rock surfaces, the ground, bodies, bark and other wood objects. In the early 70's acrylic paints and canvas became available jumpstarting a movement that has become a revolution of sorts. Artists were encouraged to paint their designs, ideas and stories rather than what they thought white people wanted or expected to see. What came fourth was immediately recognized as a very exciting new genre and other communities began painting using the new materials.

Aboriginal artists began painting their "dreaming"....the foundation of their culture....the stories of where they came from and how their world was created. The "Dreamings" were sacred a method of layering and the use of dots was used to disguise and hide the true meaning. This resulted in beautiful abstractions.

Traditionally a person could not paint a particular idea, design or "dreaming" unless they had gone through an apprenticeship and earned the right from an elder. Men were the primary sources of the "dreamings" and they decided who would be allowed to carry on the dream although women too had specific areas that they could pass on to their daughters and granddaughters.

The paintings eventually began to find a market which inevitably changed life for many communities and in particular the lives of the women who now had a source of income too.

  • About Australia's Aboriginal Art and People

  • Aboriginal Artistic Heritage

  • Upheaval and Sadness
  • Hope for the Future

  • > The New Art Movement
  • Adapting to Change

  • Success

  • Reconciliation

  • Women's Business

  • Aboriginal Art Australia

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