5 Facts About Australian Aboriginal Art and Auctions

The Aboriginal art market has grown steadily in the past 30 years as it is an attractive investment option for collectors. In 1989, Aboriginal art sales were less than AUD 18 million. However, with the emergence of aboriginal art auctions all over Australia, the demand for indigenous art sales has risen to over AUD 300 million. Here are some facts about Australian indigenous art.

Fact 1: There is No Right or Wrong Way to Hang the Art

Most aboriginal art originating from the western and central desert is an aerial depiction of the land. Therefore, there is no right or wrong way to hold it, and art buyers can hang them any way they like. As the indigenous artists paint sitting on the floor or around canvases, they do not take offense about the direction in which their works hang. In this way, aboriginal art auctions are highly versatile.

Fact 2: Tasmanian Aborigines are Still Thriving

People have a misconception that Truganini was the last known Aboriginal individual from Tasmania. However, it is not the truth. The land holds a vibrant Aboriginal community of fine artists like Julie Gough and Ricky Maynard. They are known for their craft on shells to make jewellery and basket weaving.

Fact 3: Aboriginal Art Uses Symbols to Transfer Knowledge

From traditional artists to contemporary aboriginal artists, all individuals use symbols to depict their stories. These symbols are also known as iconography, and they vary from region to region. They each have their meanings when it comes to Australian Aboriginal art. The Aboriginal tribe does not have their language. For 60,000 years, they have passed down their traditions and knowledge through word of mouth and some common symbols. Although they are deceptively simple, they have deeper meanings, and the interpretation depends on the audience. They pass down the meanings of these symbols during their ceremonies to appropriate people from their communities. There are also strict protocols when it comes to using symbols. Some can be used only by men or women. While others are not allowed to be seen outside their community.

Fact 4: Aboriginal People Have Skin Names, and Nobody is A Stranger

There is no specific word for ‘stranger’ as everyone is related through a kinship system. It is also known as skin names. These names for men and women come up often and aren’t just surnames. Along with providing an identity, these names determine their roles and responsibilities to their land, community, ceremonies, and others.

Fact 5: Each Aboriginal Symbol has its Meaning

Although the symbols found in different aboriginal paintings look the same, their Meaning might vary depending on their culture. Nonetheless, these symbols provide a deep insight into the aboriginal culture, perspective, life and lands. Generally, the paintings created by the aboriginal people of western and central Australian deserts are known as ‘maps of the country.’

The common indigenous symbols include the ‘U,’ which symbolises a person. When accompanied by an oval or a straight line, it symbolises a woman and her coolamon bowl or stick. When accompanied by a straight or curved line, it indicates a man with his spear or boomerang. Concentric circles symbolise meeting places, and parallel lines that link with these circles indicate the tracks on which people make their journeys. Wavy lines represent water flowing between two sites. Small circles could show the availability of bush food like tomatoes and melons. Artists also represent animals by the tracks they leave behind. And certain abstract symbols signify their family, life and strength.

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