For thousands of years, Aboriginal Art was often created on temporary surfaces – symbols and ceremonial images drawn on bodies or into the sand, disappearing once the ceremony was over. For the Yonglu people of Yirrkala in north-east Arnhem Land, the desire for their art to be more tangible, with greater longevity, became important. They wanted to properly document their culture and history, making other Australians aware of it.
The Warlpiri Drawings are a powerful collection of 169 Aboriginal crayon drawings that depict the turbulent times the artists experienced between 1953 and 1954. During this time Warlpiri people were relocated from their ancestral lands to a new government settlement at Hooker Creek, now known as Lajamanu, in 1948.
The doors were a way for Warlpiri people to connect the Yuendumu youth to their culture, particularly important to Aboriginal people since white settlers had made their home in their ancestral lands and now dictated much of daily life. Not only were these tangible paintings essential for imparting knowledge to the land’s youth, but also as a source of pride for Aboriginal people in the community
As is the case for many famous, influential Aboriginal artists, Rover Thomas started to paint later in life. Though his career was relatively short, his artistic reach extended far, with his style now recognised as one of the founding styles of the Warmun communities distinctive style. His unique way of painting was part of a collective to bring control back to the community through art, as well as promoting the language, culture, and literature of Gija people.
From carvings dating 65,000 years old to digital media and photography in the modern day, Aboriginal Art is expressed and captured in a variety of ways. Not only does this assortment of mediums give us a look at the details and intricacy of the tribal designs, but it also gives an insight into the unbroken tradition of art making for Aboriginal people.