Present Day Aboriginal Art

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Art has traditionally been used in ceremonies and rituals long before pen and paper. It was used in the soil that was smoothed for inscription of sacred designs . Art was ephemeral and natural materials were used to tell stories in sand, on trees, rocks bark, bodies and other natural substances to illustrate their stories and songs. Present day Aboriginal art, as we know it, originated in 1971 with the arrival of Geoff Bardon in Papunya. Geoff was an art teacher and artist. The government moved Aboriginal people from different parts of Northern Territory and placed them all together at Papunya, building tin huts, a hall and a school to try and dilute the local Aboriginal culture.

Bardon saw this and encouraged the local children and community
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It is also equivalent to a written language: Australian Aboriginal people have no written language of their own; therefore the stories of their art remain central to their culture, and are based on the symbols and information of the art in conjunction with recounted stories, dance, or song. Thus, art is a major part of the unwritten encyclopedia of Aboriginal people; and a piece of art may have many layers of meaning.

“For Aboriginal people, Aboriginal art reflects country, land and place, knowledge, culture and identity. Our art is diverse with a range of styles and media … to tell ancient stories and show new insights in a modern world. Fusing knowledge and culture, art empowers Aboriginal people with a voice and an undeniable presence. (Blacklock, 2015 p. 78).

It is important to acknowledge the significant role art plays in Aboriginal culture in the context of evaluating art as a healing modality for traumatised Aboriginal children. “Art is the lifeblood of our communities, connecting us to the past, the present and the future – to each other,” (AGNSW, 2013, p. 17 from Blacklock, 2015, p.79).” Aboriginal art is history: it tells stories of the people, for the people and by the people” (Blacklock, p. 80), which incorporates the perspective and experiences of thing Aboriginal people have experiences, such as colonization and massacres (Blacklock, 2015) As Rosie Ware a Torres Strait Islander artist
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Examples from third world countries were given and the paper concluded that arts are relevant to health, wellbeing and quality of life, giving an Aboriginal community in Australia as an example. Art is a communicative medium that allows a togetherness and heals fragmentation. When external reality is harsh and negative, it drives from the mind the capacity for imaginative dreaming. The process of art creation allows the formation of emotional links (in terms of Bion’s model) and negotiated interactive moments. This is one of the unique gifts the Aboriginal people had and it is this imagining that is allowed to be reawakened through the colour process mode of art. This is a hypothesis I will be testing and analysing throughout the art therapy group I will facilitate with the children in the
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