Aboriginal Art Styles & Regions
Australian Aboriginal Art styles vary from region to region, community to community and artist to artist. While specific regions do generally follow a style based on traditional culture and methods, there is a rich diversity spread right across the country. Some regions and styles are outlined here.
Papunya Tula in the Central Desert region at Australia’s heart is regarded as the birthplace of the Contemporary Australian Aboriginal Art movement. Their style evolved to feature dot symbols that concealed sacred meanings; a technique that spread to be adapted by many of the region’s different communities. Central Desert styles are diverse and created with acrylic paint in natural ochre colours. The styles reflect their spiritual attachment to the landscape in which they have survived and prospered with fields of dots representing the stories of the Dreamtime.
Warlukurlangu (Yuendumu), Ikuntji, Minyma Kutjara and Keringke are Central Desert communities.
The Tiwi Islands – Melville and Bathurst – are only 100 kilometres north of the mainland though their art, language and culture are unique from that of most Australian Aboriginal people. The painting style of the Tiwis is influenced by their lush, dramatic island landscape, traditional hunting lifestyle and ceremonial stories of creation. The strong geometric stripes, colours and abstract figures of Tiwi art often represent body painting used in initiation rites. Also applied at funerals, the paint conceals the identity of dancers from the deceased searching for a travelling companion.
Munupi is located on Melville Island.
WESTERN KIMBERLEY RANGES
The Kimberley in North-West Australia is a large, thinly populated region where ancient rock paintings hidden among the steep gorges, peaks and coastline inspire the amazing colour and composition of its contemporary art. Cultural heritage meets current-day community life in the diverse and uniquely expressed painting of the region’s artists. Styles range from the ghostly Wandjina and Gwion Gwion figures to beautifully composed dot painting.