Indigenous Art

When developing units of work on this particular topic, the following learnings need to be considered:

Pre-contact Era

  • Indigenous paintings and engravings recorded such things as daily life, animals in an area, tools used, hunting expeditions, plants and landscape. Much of Indigenous art was essentially religious in that it represented and amplified themes concerning Dreaming stories and beliefs.
  • Paintings and engravings, both everyday and sacred, were used as a means of communication within and among clans.The cultural diversity of the Indigenous nations, and nations within nations, is expressed through a wide range of artistic forms, styles and symbols. Dots, for example, were not traditionally used in Victoria as they were in other parts of Australia.

Contemporary Indigenous Art

  • Indigenous artists have adapted new techniques and materials in parallel with earlier traditional materials and techniques.
  • Indigenous art continues to be a living and growing concern through which Indigenous peoples express their beliefs, celebrate their tradition and look to the future.
  • Indigenous art is now prized by collectors around the world, both as art in itself and as the expression of a unique and sophisticated culture.
  • Photography, music and jewellery are mediums that Indigenous artists are utilising increasingly as a form of artistic expression.
  • Poster art is a new and important vehicle for modem Indigenous artists. Posters convey powerful messages about important issues. Poster collections can ensure that students are aware of the vibrancy and depth of present day Indigenous art.
  • For many Indigenous artists, the arts provide an important and fulfilling means of income.
  • The development of the Indigenous arts, both traditional and contemporary, requires continued support and encouragement if growth with vitality is to be maintained.