When it comes to Australia’s cultural arts scene, perhaps no other group has contributed to the diversity and vibrancy of it than the Indigenous Australians. Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders have a long-standing history of beautiful artwork, and their pieces are often bright, bold in colour and reflective of Australia’s natural beauty.
Of course, there are many different groups of indigenous Australians, and each group contributes something special and unique. If you’re a member of one of these proud first nations and love to study art, then you might have the abilities and talents needed to pursue an artistic career as an artist or a professional craftsman, infusing your cultures into each piece.
Here is why you should learn about Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders cultural arts and why it matters to Australia’s national identity.
As we have seen in numerous civilisations that have existed all over the world, art has constantly been a way for people to express themselves. When archeologists discovered cave art in Indonesia, they determined it to be over 40,000 years old and were taken aback by the renderings of pig-deer and hand stencils. The artwork on the ceilings and walls was clearly representative of the society in which these people lived.
In the same sense, the artwork of indigenous people reflects the cultures, histories and traditions of the group. Past triumphs live on in their artwork, and these pieces evoke memories of loved ones and celebrations. Through its art, a community can remain connected to its past and carry on those memories for future generations.
The Mayans. The Incas. The Aztecs. These great people once thrived in South and Central America. Some of their history has been preserved, but the Incas, for example, had no writing system. Therefore, much of their culture and practices, including the true reason for building Machu Picchu, may never be known. The only thing historians have to go on in their research of the Incas is their constructions and their artwork.
Indigenous Australian cultures face a different challenge. As the world becomes more connected, it is so much easier for cultures to pick up traditions from others. While it’s great that we can share so much with each other, some cultures tend to dominate over others. After several generations, the traditions and cultural artwork of an indigenous group may begin to fade.
Luckily, there are plenty of people who want to see these cultures and arts preserved forever. Now more than ever, artists and students of cultural arts are depicting their culture in their art and showcasing it in mainland exhibitions. The goal is to ensure that these proud traditions and cultures are never lost.
In Australia, maybe people have visited some of these Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities, and they might have even seen their art work at museums and cultural centres. But what about others outside of Australia?
With the advent of the internet, it’s become much easier for indigenous people to spread the word about their cultural arts, and people are definitely taking an interest. Indigenous artists are using their art as their voice as they share the cultures and traditions of their people. They have the ability to reach people all around the world and take part in the global culture exchange we see happening every day.
Did you know that your love of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander artwork could be the key to a thriving career? The paintings, drawings, ceramics and lino prints that represent these cultures are brightening up homes all over Australia and entrancing visitors to the country. If you’d love to share your culture’s rich history with a wider audience, becoming an artist may be the perfect way to do so.
When starting a career in cultural arts, the best place to start is in school. At Kangan Institute, we’re committed to helping Aboriginal and Torres Strait students develop their own style of art by infusing their culture and histories and finding new, artistic ways to interpret them. You’ll also learn more about local artistics and what they’re currently doing to leave their marks on the art world.
Upon completion of your education, you’ll be ready to start your career as an artist or craftsperson, bringing your passion and love of culture to a wider range of people. Teach Australians about your culture’s impact on the national identity of Australia and share your artwork with people from around the globe.