Australia’s Aboriginal art has been buoyed by the popularity of recent exhibitions in the U.S. and U.K. But some Aboriginal artists question why that same level of interest doesn’t exist back home.
CCTV’s Greg Navarro has more.
Australia\'s Aboriginal art industry continues to grow overseasAustralia’s Aboriginal art has been buoyed by the popularity of recent exhibitions in the U.S. and U.K. But some Aboriginal artists question why that same level of interest doesn’t exist back home. CCTV’s Greg Navarro has more.
Among the dozens of works featured at an exhibition in Sydney’s S.H. Ervin Gallery. One of them was painted by Aboriginal artist Adam Hill.
“It took me about a week and a half to paint this one,” Hill said. It’s the most clouds I’ve ever painted in a painting and there is one for every prime minister.”
Hill, who goes by the name Blak Douglas, is known for his contemporary urban style and social commentary.
“I stir the pot with a very blunt stick and my work is to remind people of the ironies that exist within this colony as aboriginal people,” Hill said.
The Aboriginal art industry is thriving overseas. That includes a recent auction in the UK, and a recent exhibition in the US featuring the work from 105 year old Daisy Loongkoonan, who started painting at the age of 95.
But some people in the industry don’t believe Aboriginal art is getting the kind of attention it deserves back home.
“Australia was one of the last place on earth where Indigenous art hadn’t been explored, fully explored like the Americas and Africa,” Aboriginal Artist Walangari Karntawarra said.
“I think Australians are somewhat ignorant in regards to the oldest living culture that they share the land with, I think there is very little knowledge about Indigenous people in this country,” Burrinja Dandenong Ranges Community Cultural Centre Curator, JD Mittmann said.
The 2007 global financial crisis had a huge impact on the art world globally and in particular, the Aboriginal art industry here in Australia. In fact today there are half as many Aboriginal art galleries as there were just before the GFC hit.
Hill believes the interest in Aboriginal art is linked to some of the struggles facing indigenous people. The country’s aboriginal population still does not have the same constitutional protections as non-Indigenous Australians.
“The colony has been tired of the Indigenous plight since its inception which is only 228 years ago and so I stand as living proof of a diluted people which is a part of assimilating into the colony and to say tired of – let’s replace tired with ignorant, you know, who wants to talk about issues that are close to the bone when you are trying to colonies and industrialize a continent?” Hill said.
“They are carrying all sorts of cultural baggage and insecurities about the other, you know, but I encourage anybody to explore, first by reading then by going to exhibitions where Aboriginal people bring their art into the city.” Cooee Aboriginal Art Gallery Owner, Adrian Newstead said.