Articles on Indigenous art

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Detail from Witchetty Grub Dreaming, Jennifer Napaljarri Lewis, Warlukurlangu Artists of Yuendumu. Courtesy of the artist

The resonances between Indigenous art and images captured by microscopes

A new exhibition pairs paintings by Indigenous Australian artists with microscopic images captured by scientists. The parallels, as this gallery of pictures shows, are intriguing.
A scene from the best-selling ‘Red: A Haida Manga,’ a revenge story. Michael Nicoll Yahgulanaas

Haida manga: An artist embraces tragedy, beautifully

The "Haida manga" by Indigenous artist Yahgulanaas opens a graphic dialogue between the different cultures of the Pacific Northwest and East Asia.
Balgo artists: Miriam Baadjo (b. 1957),Tossie Baadjo (b. 1958), Jane Gimme (b. 1958), Gracie Mosquito (b. 1955), Helen Nagomara (b. 1953), Ann Frances Nowee (b. 1964) and Imelda Yukenbarri (b. 1954). Bush medicine: a collaborative work by women from Wirrimanu (Balgo), 2018, acrylic on linen, 120×180cm, MHM2018.32, © Warlayirti Artists; Medical History Museum

The art of healing: five medicinal plants used by Aboriginal Australians

At least half the food eaten by the first Australians came from plants. And in terms of medicines, many different parts of plants were used.
Artist Nyapanyapa Yunipingu is assisted by art centre worker Jeremy Cloake at Buku-Larrnngay Art Centre,Yirrkala. Siobhan McHugh

Aboriginal art: is it a white thing?

White people hugely influence the Aboriginal art world – but that can be a good thing, according to the artists.
Detail from Emily Kam Kngwarray, Anmatyerr people. Yam awely 1995 synthetic polymer paint on canvas 150 x 491 cm National Gallery of Australia, Canberra Gift of the Delmore Collection, Donald and Janet Holt 1995 © Emily Kam Kngwarray.

Friday essay: in defence of beauty in art

Today, beauty counts for little in the judgement of works of art. But our felt experience of beauty connects us with an object's maker, revealing a pure moment of humanity.
Detail from William Barak, Figures in possum skin cloaks, 1898, pencil, wash, charcoal solution, gouache and earth pigments on paper, 57.0 x 88.8 cm (image and sheet) National Gallery of Victoria, Melbourne Purchased, 1962

NGV’s Colony is a bold attempt to confront Australia’s colonial past, but divisions remain

Colony at the NGV pairs colonial art with Indigenous responses, in an effort to create dialogue about Australia's history.
Ngathu, in Bangarra’s Ones Country, is a brilliant combination of the contemporary and traditional, telling the story of the ngathu, or cycad, in Arnhem Land. Photo by Daniel Boud

In Bangarra’s Ones Country, new voices show the many faces of Indigenous Australia

Bangarra’s current season of three new works, Ones Country, is uneven in parts but worth seeing for the diversity of Indigenous stories from some new choreographic voices.
Sabbia Gallery - Alison Milyika Carroll working on a pot at Ernabella Arts ceramic studio, 2017. Photo Ernabella Arts, Courtesy of Sabbia Gallery

All fired up: Clay Stories is a triumphant display of contemporary Indigenous ceramics

Clay Stories, a travelling exhibition, showcases ceramic art from Indigenous artists across the country. It is a triumphant display of specific stories and Dreamings, standing against cultural and political amnesia.
Indigenous Australians use ochre to add colour and detail to items such as this shield at the South Australian Museum. Image courtesy of South Australian Museum

When bacteria tell a story: tracing Indigenous Australian ochre sources via microbial ‘fingerprinting’

Ochre is more than just paint - it tells stories of culture and trade in Indigenous Australians. Using museum artefacts plus science can track ochre sources and untangle a lost history.
Detail from Percy Leason, Thomas Foster, 1934, oil on canvas, 76.0 x 60.8 cm, State Library Victoria, Melbourne. Gift of Mrs Isabelle Leason, 1969 (H32094) © Max Leason

Friday essay: painting ‘The Last Victorian Aborigines’

Anthropologist Percy Leason thought he was painting the extinction of Victoria's Indigenous people in the 1930s. He was wrong, but his portraits, part of a new exhibition at the National Gallery of Victoria, are surprisingly sympathetic.
Brenda L. Croft. shut/mouth/scream (detail) 2016 Courtesy of the artist and Stills Gallery

Defying Empire: the legacy of 1967

The National Gallery of Australia's Third National Indigenous Art Triennial presents a passionate well-considered argument for an enduring Aboriginal culture.
Part of Mandy Martin’s painting Cool Burn (2016): in her painting workshops at Djinkarr, Indigenous rangers brought the threats to their land to life on canvas.

Friday essay: caring for country and telling its stories

Feral cats and pigs, mission grass and climate change - in western Arnhem Land, Indigenous rangers are battling many environmental threats. Through painting and performance, they are also telling 'healthy country' stories.
Indigenous games like ‘Honour Water’ can teach Indigenous values and ceremonial practices. Honour Water/Elizabeth LaPensée

Video games encourage Indigenous cultural expression

A strengthening movement of Indigenous designers and developers is working to show Indigenous cultures, teachings, languages and ways of knowing through video games.

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