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Aboriginal Dot Painting
Transcript of Aboriginal Dot Painting
line, color, shapes and meanings
The new way of using canvas and acrylic paints may only have started in the 1970s, but the symbols and stories on modern dot paintings have been used in Aboriginal desert sand art for thousands of years.
History of Aboriginal Dot Paintings
In the 1970s, an artist of European background by the name of
Papunya people in central Australia
transfer their sand paintings to canvas
by using dots to paint their sacred designs which they used in ceremony. So the Aboriginal artists
abstracted their sacred designs into dots.
This became to be known as Papunya Art Movement. These people quickly became
famous for their paintings
and today the Papunya Tukla School has about 150 artists. As opposed to the old sand paintings, they now paint their dot paintings on canvas sheets, using
. These have many more shades to choose from than the traditional ochre colours; and the paintings on canvas don’t only last longer than the sand paintings, but they can also be brought into art galleries and shipped overseas. The modern dot paintings have become very famous and sell well world-wide. They are
globally recognised as unique Aboriginal art.
Dot paintings now appear on much more than canvas sheets – they are found on all sorts of Australian souvenirs, not only on
didgeridoos and boomerangs
but also others like t-shirts, fridge magnets and coffee cups.
Modern Aboriginal Dot Paintings
Modern dot paintings use the same symbols as did the ancient sand paintings. There is often a whole story in a dot painting, easy to understand for people who are familiar with the Dreamtime stories, customs and also dot symbols of a particular tribe. But other, simpler dot paintings can nowadays also just have a simple message and picture animals like kangaroos, snakes and lizards. Symbols can also have different meanings depending on the tribe. An arc shape for example can represent a boomerang or a person sitting at the campfire. A circle can represent an important person or event. Concentric circles can represent a rock hole, a camping site or a significant ancestral site. U shaped lines often mean a person sitting. Straight lines mean travel routes while wavy lines often mean water or rain. Often only the artist or people really familiar with the story or the life of the particular tribe can understand the painting fully.
What Symbols Are There and What Do They Mean?
Clifford Possum Tjapaltjarri AO (1932—21 June 2002) was an Australian painter, considered to be one of the most collected and renowned Australian Aboriginal artists. His paintings are held in galleries and collections in Australia and elsewhere, including the National Gallery of Australia, the Kelton Foundation and the Royal Collection.
Clifford Possum Tjapaltjarri AO (1932—21 June 2002)
The people of central Australia and western deserts were known for their
desert sand art.
They used to clear a piece of land, and “paint” a
story on sand,
using small rocks, flowers, feathers and seeds. All the different shapes in Aboriginal dot paintings had a meaning, and as the elders were painting pictures they sang a
Young clan members were watching and listening, and learned the story from it. Sand paintings were also used during spiritual ceremonials and other religious rituals. Paintings on the sand didn’t of course last for long, so what there was to learn from them had to be done instantly.