Aboriginal or Indigenous Australians have long used art in its many forms for spiritual and cultural storytelling. Thought to be the world’s oldest continuous culture extending back around 50,000 years, this incredible ability to survive over time began with the ancient stories of Creation: The Dreaming or Jukurrpa. From a prehistoric period when great Ancestral Spirits shaped the land and created life, these stories describe a belief system and way of life that define Australia’s First Nations people.
While Jukurrpa shapes Aboriginals’ spiritually, morally and socially, it is their deep relationship with the land where all is sacred that has sustained their life and culture for so many millennia. “We cultivated our land, but in a way different from the white man.” says Tom Dystra, “We endeavoured to live with the land; they seemed to live off it. I was taught to preserve, never to destroy.”
Jukurrpa stories have long been kept private in secret rituals, rock and bark painting, carvings, sculpture and body painting and performed in songs and dances. This is Indigenous Australia’s heritage.