Aboriginal Australia is a large and complex nation with hundreds of traditional languages each of which can have several dialects. Each tribe’s boundaries and population has varied over time as vast changes occurred in the landscape.
This has given rise to a variety of customs and art styles. Historically, Aboriginal people did not create imagery for aesthetic reasons; mark making, colours and motifs all had purpose and varied in each region. Most often they were ceremonial in purpose and were used to transmit information across the generations.
Today, it is inappropriate for a person, especially a person of Aboriginal descent, to create ‘Aboriginal Art’ out of context; meaning they do not have permission to paint a story, use particular motifs or borrow a style from country other than from where their Aboriginal family is from. The difficulty now after so much interruption to the transferring of our culture is the seeming missing historical links and information.
Many are hungry to revive and learn more about their ancestry. This hunger should not lead people to create artwork that is copied from other places. By doing this you are disrespecting the traditional owners of that place and Aboriginal people as a whole.
It is inappropriate for a person, especially a person of Aboriginal descent, to create ‘Aboriginal Art’ out of context.
About the past and now
As a contemporary artist, our founder Cherie Johnson, creates work influenced and inspired by Aboriginal culture and traditions. Cherie’s intention is to develop concepts and visual formats that are new rather than borrowed ‘traditional’ looking techniques such as dot painting and rarrk (cross-hatching).
In Cherie’s region, there has been a revival of ancient techniques such as weaving swamp reeds and sewing possum skin cloaks. This is done to bring back traditional techniques that can be used to create modern artworks that convey what it is to be an Aboriginal person right now.