The drawings, which experts say are irrecoverable, are of particular significance to the Mirning People.
These paintings, filled with traditional abstract Aboriginal iconography denoting nature, spirits, and a way of life that has been passed down for generations, are a wonder.
CAMBRIDGE, Mass. — In 1971, at a remote government settlement in Australia’s Northern Territory called Papunya, a group of elderly Aboriginal men painted designs from ancestral creation stories onto a school wall in cheap, bright acrylics.
There are only a handful of bark art examples from the Dja Dja Wurrung in Australia, and they’re leagues away from their place of origin. A new exhibition of indigenous art of Australia at the British Museum, which holds these artifacts in their collections, will finally bring them back to the South Pacific. However, leaders there want them returned permanently.
Artifacts in museums — in an effort for preservation — are often placed out of reach of the communities with which they are entwined. One way museums are bridging this divide is digitization, and with this purpose in mind, the South Australian Museum is currently undertaking a massive project to photograph and catalogue each and every one of the objects in their Aboriginal Material Culture Collection.
Recently, I received a press release from the Brooklyn’s Museum of Contemporary African Diasporan Arts (MoCADA) heralding their new show, Saying No: Reconciling Spirituality and Resistance in Indigenous Australian Art. My first reaction was astonishment. I didn’t understand how Australian Aboriginals fit into the mission of an institution concerned with the African diaspora?