When Lisa and I visited the Museum of Contempory Art, they had an entire wall of beautiful bark paintings without (to me) comprehensible labeling p, with my apologies to the artists I have decided to present them here. Bark painting is an Australian Aboriginal art form, involving painting on the interior of a strip of Eucalyptus bark. This is a continuing form of artistic expression in Arnhem Land and other regions in the Top End of Australia including parts of the Kimberley region of Western Australia. Traditionally, bark paintings were produced for instructional and ceremonial purposes and were transient objects. Today, they are keenly sought after by collectors and public arts institutions. Bark paintings are based on sacred designs that include abstract patterns and designs (such as cross-hatching in particular colours) that identify a clan, and also often contain elements of the Eternal Dreamtime. Sometimes the elements of a story are obvious—such as men or animals—but sometimes the elements are symbolic. Many of the myths seem only to be concerned with a particular animal or bird. However in symbolic meaning of great importance. For instance, the Sun is a woman, she creates life and she is often symbolized by water, fire, earth and red ochre, the Moon is male and controls the tides and seasonal cycles – he is often symbolized by snake, dog, frog and also water.
The history of Australia is similar to the Americas with European settlers displacing the native peoples by means of force. As time went by, the European invaders have grown more respectful both in Australia and the Americas. This exhibition explores the Aboriginal peoples art and it’s connection with the true nature and experience of the landscape of Australia. The “more appropriate” terms describing the native people of Australia stress the humanity of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people. “Aboriginal” which in Latin means “from the beginning” and other such European words are used because there is no Aboriginal word that refers to all Aboriginal people in Australia. When we entered this room we immediately felt the spiritually and beauty of the art. The baskets glowed in their own quiet way, the fishing baskets enhanced the room and the paintings completed the picture in a truly Aboriginal people’s way.