Ancient Legends – Local Knowledge
Exhibition dates Saturday February 24th – Sunday March 25th 2018
Glenelg Art Gallery, Stamford Grand Hotel, Moseley Sq, Glenelg
Exhibition hours 11am – 6pm
Workshop Times in March Saturday 10th, Sunday 10th, Saturday 17th, Sunday 18th – 1.30pm – 3.30pm – booking essential ph or text name to 0410 481 237 to book – this is a normal number not a subscription ! or email us
Amazing Aboriginal Artists Exhibition from outback South Australia and connections back up north, from here to home. Cultural Workshops included. Audrey Brumby pictured is one of the feature artists. Many old Papunya Tula pieces including a large Clifford Possum. ”For many 10’s of thousands of years Aboriginal Nations across Australia used a visual language to teach and pass down history. As “white fellas” came and Church & Education introduced pencils, paper, paints and canvases “we” became interested in these “stories” as Art. Through it now we can share gifts that are ancient legends, some of the oldest known to humankind.
More than 300 Aboriginal nations, community or language groups across Australia have their own spoken Language, lifestyles, customs and Dreamtimes (Ancient story lines that explain Creation and Lore), methods and symbolism.
For the First Nation peoples, what we now call Aboriginal Art has developed over 20,000 years as a way of communicating education and history. It passes the Dreamtime knowledge to next generations, teaches social structure, geography, where to hunt and gather food and medicines, and records events.
Aboriginal people share a deep affinity with the land, plants, animals, air and water. For example, in Stephen Martin Pitjara’s “Spirit Man” paintings the artist is saying we are born with all we need around us, in our natural habitat.
Shapes drawn in the sand using a stick with a dot on the end might show where to find wild yams. Nowadays, that map would be painted in acrylic, in nature’s rich colours, and may be titled “Gathering Bush Tucker.” It has become art, a simple, beautiful piece.
The painting continues to teach, offering insights into Aboriginal culture. It invites study, seduces and teases within layers of interpretation of the terrain and flora. It has soul and brings warmth with stories of travel and ceremonies.
Looking at Aboriginal art’s short history in the western world is like watching a beautiful flower bloom into a riot of colour.
In the 1970s, the first generation of Aboriginal artists used natural ochre pigments, plant dyes, even blood, frequently on boards or bark. Again, a case of using what is there. Then, it was seen as “all brown dots.”
Often what we call art for décor has been created by many generations of women as family groups, sitting together painting big canvases.
Elders and Aunties paint their stories, their history, beliefs and heritage instructions. Through the Dreamtime stories and languages handed down, several spectacular emerging artists have won international acclaim.
We are drawn instinctively by the vastness of vision these artworks radiate. The Artists share new ways with ancient legends, and their power is in the brush stroke.
Aboriginal artists have embraced colour to better replicate their wonderful red sands, blue skies, turquoise waters, creamy sands, a thousand shades of green, and rainbow wildflowers. The mapping skill in the paintings of My Country themes shows an “impossible” knowledge of the landscape. From a “bird’s-eye” view, the sharers’ understanding of where everything is and how it fits together, is extraordinary.
Individual styles interpret the same story, again drawing us into all-belonging, repetitive patterns, linking harmoniously, creating and celebrating. “The Seven Sisters” is a popular tale of the night sky and is one of the most widely distributed ancient stories amongst Aboriginal Australia. The songline travels through many different language groups and different sections of the narrative are recognised in different parts of the country. The story relates to the journey of the seven sisters that make up the star cluster known as the Pleiades, in the constellation Taurus. Mythological stories of the Pleiades also cross many other cultures outside Australia – the story also appears in ancient Greek mythology – again “impossible” knowledge from “our” point of view.
An ancient people with the oldest living human history offer a new way of looking at art and culture to a world already steeped in art and culture.
Aboriginal art speaks in new colours to fresh eyes, of old wisdom in new ways. It is a fluid language”. Rowena Brown