Articles on Indigenous art

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Detail of Mirdidingkingathi Juwarnda Sally Gabori, Dibirdibi Country – Topway 2016. Queensland Art Gallery | Gallery of Modern Art Collection Image courtesy Alcaston Gallery © The Estate of the Artist and Viscopy Australia

Here’s looking at: Dibirdibi Country – Topway by Mirdidingkingathi Juwarnda Sally Gabori

Mirdidingkingathi Juwarnda Sally Gabori began painting in her 80s, and over ten years created an extraordinary body of work. Her paintings are more like music and dance – depicting the stories of the Kaiadilt people for the first time.
A picture of strength: lifelong activist Bonita Mabo OA in front of her portrait as a young woman, which features in her granddaughter Boneta-Marie Mabo’s first solo exhibition. Josef Ruckli, courtesy of the State Library of Queensland

Black Velvet: redefining and celebrating Indigenous Australian women in art

Boneta-Marie Mabo's art responds to a colonial past in which Aboriginal women were fetishised as "black velvet". But it also celebrates strong women, including her activist grandmother Bonita Mabo.
Koori women Treahna Hamm, Vicki Couzens and Lee Darroch wear ‘Biaganga’, traditional possum coats at the Melbourne Museum’s Aboriginal Cultural Centre in Melbourne. Julian Smith/AAP

How living museums are ‘waking up’ sleeping artefacts

Museums are cracking open the temperature-controlled, dehumidified display cases and inviting people in. Working with Aboriginal communities is reawakening cultural connections and ancient art forms.
‘Children who are yet to be born need to know their place in the never-ending story.’ Warangkula family portrait alongside Warangkula Court street sign. Photo: Helen Puckey

Streets of Papunya delivers an artistic renaissance worth celebrating

Succeeding generations need to know where they are placed in the unfolding grand narrative of Aboriginal art. Those of us who are not Aboriginal need to understand the complex relationship between settler Australians and the people of the land.
Bradshaw rock paintings near King Edward River, Kimberley region of Western Australia. Wikimedia Commons

Aboriginal history rewritten again by ignorant political class

Last week Liberal Democrats Senator David Leyonhjelm was widely reported as suggesting that people other than Aboriginal Australians may have occupied the Australian continent in the past. At a doorstop…
One of the works on display at Earth and Sky:John Mawurndjul’s Mardayin ceremony 2000 (detail). Natural pigments on eucalyptus bark, 170 x 78 cm. Don Mitchell Bequest Fund 2000. Art Gallery of New South Wales, Sydney. © John Mawurndjul. Tarrawarra Museum of Art

Enthusiastic spirit: John Mawurndjul at Tarrawarra

Hetti Perkins has curated an exhibition of bark paintings by John Mawurndjul and Gulumbu Yunupingu that is currently on display at Tarrawarra Museum of Art. Who are these artists – and how have their lives shaped their artworks?
Shell Necklace, Displayed at the Great Exhibition, London, 1851. Maireener shell and fibre. Oyster Cove, Tasmania, before 1851 © The Trustees of the British Museum.

Indigenous Australia: Enduring Civilisation is a challenge to review

It hovers uneasily between being a fine-art exhibition showing the diversity and sheer visual and sociocultural potency of contemporary Australian visual art practice, and an older-style ethnographic survey.
Saulal by Dennis Nona won the 27th Telstra National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Art Award. Dennis Nona/Aboriginal Art Network

We’ve scrubbed Dennis Nona’s art from our galleries to our cost

Indigenous artist Dennis Nona is currently serving a jail term for serious crimes. Should the work of the most significant artist to have emerged from the Torres Strait in the last 50 years be removed from gallery walls?
The unfinished Crazy Horse memorial in Custer County, South Dakota. Bernd00/Wikimedia Commons

Crazy Horse: leader, warrior, martyr … artist?

More than a century after he died, the Lakota warrior Crazy Horse, who famously fought General Custer in the Battle of Little Bighorn, is thought of as transcendent force – attuned to the universe in a…
Some Indigenous paintings have lasted thousands of years … so what is it about the pigments that make them so long-lasting? Carolien Coenen/Flickr

Pigments and palettes from the past – science of Indigenous art

Indigenous Australian practices, honed over thousands of years, weave science with storytelling. In this Indigenous science series, we look at different aspects of First Australians’ traditional life and…
A close up of one of the hand stencils found in the prehistoric caves in Indonesia. Kinez Riza

40,000 year old rock art found in Indonesia

Rock art dated to a minimum age of almost 40,000 years has been discovered in the Maros region of southern Sulawesi, Indonesia. This is an incredible result, published in Nature today, because one of the…
Jean Baptiste Apuatimi, Tikipayinga – 3D Tunga, 2012, etching & aquatint, edition of 8, 49.5 (h) x 38.5 (l) x 15 (w) cm. Image courtesy Northern Editions

Community and continuty: the art of the Tiwi Islands

Located off the coast of Darwin in the Northern Territory are the alluring Tiwi Islands. The two inhabited islands – Bathurst and Melville Island – are spectacular to encounter with their red pebble shores…
Jasmine Togo Brisby’s work is on display at Deadly Nui Art at the Melbourne Fringe Festival. Kimba Thomson/Blak Dot Gallery

Melbourne Fringe review: DNA (Deadly Nui Art) at Blak Dot Gallery

On the wall hang three portraits of contemporary South Pacific Islanders, some with ships and all with duty stamps in the foreground. Skulls of sealed raw sugar glisten on a table. Bitter Sweet is the…
In The Boys Home, artist Zanny Begg worked with boys in juvenile detention. This image is from a project titled Rooms. Photo documentation by Alex Wisser. The Boys Home

The Boys Home: making art in a juvenile detention centre

I entered the secretive world of a maximum-security prison for children in Sydney’s Western suburbs for four months earlier this year. My passport into this highly restrictive world was an artist residency…
Artists Dianne Ungukalpi Golding, Eunice Yunurupa Porter, Nancy Jackson, Winnie Woods and Melva Davies at Tjanpi Desert Weavers workshop, Warakurna, April 2011. Photo Jo Foster, Tjanpi Desert Weavers, NPY Women’s Council

The Tjanpi Desert Weavers show us that traditional craft is art

For over a thousand generations Aboriginal people made no distinction between art and craft. Art was, and still is, a way of life and as much about function as it is about beauty and form. Artistic forms…

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