John Smith Gumbula Aboriginal Art Australia Two Lovers Meet | eBay
Members of the Timbery family regularly produce the artwork and artefacts sold in the shop. Paintings, both traditional and contemporary, are on offer as is. John Smith Gumbula Aboriginal Art Australia Two Lovers Meet | Collectibles, Cultures & Ethnicities, Australian | eBay!. Artlandish Aboriginal Art Gallery | Artlandish is one of the worlds largest Authentic Browse hundreds of beautiful artworks, meet aboriginal artists, learn.
We pass picked remains of kangaroos and starved calves, the upturned shells of burnt-out cars and, every now and then, a small white cross planted in the dirt.
The ranges in the distance were once higher than the Himalayas, but millions of years of wind and rain have reduced them to sorry, crumbling bluffs. Dead animals, dead mountains, dead land; from the bloodwood trees and the ghost gums to Mount Unapproachable and the Sandy Blight Road, the soul of this landscape is revealed in the way it's been christened by generations of white pioneers. It's a place of murderous beauty; a wasteland of spiny shrubs, derelict rivers and psychotic centigrades.
Except, of course, that it isn't. In truth, this is not a place of death, but of secrets. And we're the ones in the dark.
Because Aboriginal art isn't just cutely arranged dots and u-shapes. More than history, more than religion, the stories depicted in their paintings are both these things and more.
They are, in fact, nothing less than a map of survival. When, inthe English dismissed these near-naked nomads as evolutionary underlings, what they couldn't see was the inside of their brains.
The indigenous mind teams with unknowable layers of knowledge about every tree, hill and water source for hundreds of kilometres.
The invaders derided them for not having books; the Aboriginals could equally have derided us for needing them. Every Aboriginal has a 'Tjukurpa' or Dreaming — a story from the time of the world's creation which, in its details, will tell an individual everything they need to know about where to find food, medicine and water and how, morally, to live their life.
It's a cross between a Biblical parable, a 'Just So story' and a travel guide, and every event in the tale corresponds to an actual facet of the physical landscape. Tjukurpas are incredibly complex and taught in stages, with each new level of detail being revealed by the elders when an individual is believed ready.
They're taught in as many ways as possible: As Roslyn says, 'If you can hear a story and paint it, sing it and dance it, you increase your ability to remember it a hundredfold.
Men don't know what the women are taught; one person's Dreaming is never to be shared with another, on threat of death. White people, even today, are told only as much as an Aboriginal child. When the first paintings were produced on canvas, some elders judged they revealed too much. The response was furious and violent, with an early exhibition building being attacked with stones and boomerangs.
Soon, artists learned to deliberately obscure their work with abstraction. Dots — which were originally a relatively unimportant part of the compositions, representing a shimmering 'Dreaming power' — began to dominate.
Back at Desert Mob, Kate Podger told me, 'Sometimes when you watch people paint, you'll see the underpainting, then you'll see all the layers come on top of it. If you ask questions, it all gets covered up very quickly. Peter just stands there, urinating in the open, but, as an Englishman, I have an inexplicable need to find a tree. It's a minute walk away and, on my return back to the car, I find Peter looking severe.
Gondwana represent a small and exclusive roster of artists. Dorothy, I know, is a multi-award-winner who's been exhibited internationally and collected by celebrated American abstractionist Sol LeWitt. Opened in to house Aboriginals of different tribal groups who had generations of warring between them, this is a place whose past is ferocious and miserable.
But Papunya does have another, more staggering, stake in history than all that. Because this is where the art began, thanks, largely, to the vision of a year-old teacher back in Geoffrey Bardon was rare, in those days, for making a supreme effort to become close to the Aboriginals and one evening, as he was watching television, a group of elders knocked on his door and nervously handed him a piece of paper.
It was a honey ant, the hero of one of the region's many Dreaming stories. Bardon — who had been to art school — encouraged them to paint. When they began transposing the honey ant onto a mural at the school, Bardon stopped them.
Soon, the men were painting traditional designs on any scrap material they could scavenge. After Bardon procured some proper art supplies, they produced between and canvasses within 12 months, some of which the teacher sold, on their behalf, in Alice Springs. But by July the following year, Bardon's enthusiasm had corroded into despair.
Beyond the Dot
In his memoir, he recalls 40 artists downing brushes one day and chanting 'Money! He died in It's in learning about some of Bardon's problems that my puzzling chat with Shorty begins to take focus.
Back then, Bardon quickly realised the men didn't understand the way in which Westerners value art. The way they saw it, the more important the Dreaming, the higher the value of the painting. So when I asked Shorty why people spent so much on his work, I now understand why he kept giving the same reply: As we pull up at the Papunya Tjupi art centre, the sun is making gold with the low range of ruined mountains on the horizon.
A group of women are painting in the shade of the step by the front door except for one individual, who's all alone in the sweltering dazzle, wearing an overcoat and woollen beanie.
Roslyn immediately identifies this as Doris Bush. I don't think she can look after herself. Her family takes money off her all the time. Academics call it 'clientelism', Aboriginals call it 'humbug' and it refers to the practise — normal, by necessity, among many tribal societies — in which the earnings of the individual are automatically made available to the group. This, of course, is also precisely the issue that's proving intractable in Africa, where clientelism translates into democratically elected politicians sharing the spoils of their victory with their tribal and family associates, and leads all too frequently to jealous war.
To us, it smells like corruption. But to them, it's how life has worked for millennia. Everything has always been shared. They don't have any notion of personal belongings. Even with the canvasses: I've seen them work for days on a painting and then never look at it again. It's too concentrated, too directional. But then, he pulls out a medium sized canvas by Tilau Nangala. It seems unusual in it's roughness. Rather than a shimmering galaxy of fine dots, these are wide, earthy, expressive smudges.
This, they tell me, is the kind of work that appeals to connoisseurs: Peter lays it carefully onto a gathering stack of paint and secret wisdom. The next day, it finally happens. To be honest, I'd given up. After Papunya we'd travelled to see some young men's work at Haasts Bluff and then to Santa Teresa to pick up some canvasses in their unique concentric, almost Hindu-esque, style.
Although there was plenty of rich talent evident, nothing moved me. I'm back in Alice Springs, in a large room above the Gondwana Gallery.
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And working silently on the floor is Roslyn's world-famous client, Dorothy Napangardi. And your aunties would say "Where are the u-shapes in your paintings? Where are the circles? Roslyn turns back to me, 'And she'd just sit there until they went away. I wonder how much the works that are placed about the studio would cost. It's this fragility that's led her to fall victim to family members who, on payment of bribes, have bullied her into posing in front of fake canvasses that have ended up for sale in places like eBay.
It also means she's frequently humbugged clean. Now it's "give me a Toyota". Despite such success, though, the indigenous arts industry has had its critics -- such as Australian expatriate writer Germaine Greer, who a few years ago blasted the commercialisation of Aboriginal art as "crass, flashy, predictable and "artless".
But art dealer Michael Micallef, who runs an Aboriginal art and crafts dealership in Queensland, Australia and Switzerland, says comments like Ms Greer's are misplaced.
Critics fail to recognise the benefits to indigenous people of the arts industry, which provides a strong source of money, reinforces traditional culture and promotes pride, he says, in "the amazing artistic talent in about 95 per cent of Aboriginal communties".
Yet many in the industry say that alongside the inspirational works being produced, there is a problem with unscrupulous businesses and individuals producing pseudo-Aboriginal art and crafts, such as "Indonesian didgeridoos".
Queensland Aboriginal Creations is among many outlets and artists hoping indigenous art fraud will be lessened with the adoption of the recently launched Label of Authenticity, a rigorous national certification system to authenticate Australian indigenous cultural products. Indigenous artists, designers and manufacturers now can apply to the National Indigenous Arts Advicacy Association for permission to use the label.
But only a handful of senior artists sell canvases or barks for big prices and most of these follow the Aboriginal custom of supporting a large network of family members. Emily Kngwarreye, for example, was said to earn thousands of dollars a day from her paintings but gave away all her earnings to some 80 or more relatives who depended on her for food, blankets and cars.
And the biggest fine art profits are all going to buyers and sellers on the secondary auction and dealer market, where artists receive no share of resales of their works. The most commented-on, if not scandalous, example of inflated profits to the marketeers has been the recently auctioned Water Dreaming work by Paunya dot painting pioneer, Johnny Warangkula Tjupurrula.
This work has set two sales records: What did Tjupurrula receive? Tjupurrula, who was still working up until a few years ago but now has cataracts that prevent him from painting and lives in an Alice Springs nursing home, is said to not understand why so much money can be paid for his work without his receiving any of it.
Now the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Commission and other groups are calling on auction houses and other dealers to pass on some of the proceeds of sales to indigenous artists by paying resale royalties. Amongst other moves to stamp out exploitative practices and secure a better deal for indigenous artists, last year Sydney dealer Adrian Newstead formed Art.
Trade, an indigenous art industry body of some 70 members that has devised its own code of ethics. Newstead says that in the long-term education is the key to ensuring manufacturers, art dealers and retailers deal fairly and honestly with indigenous artists: Trade and other groups are very focused on activities in the retailing centres for Aboriginal art in Sydney, Melbourne and Alice Springs.
One might ask how the Queensland indigenous art scene is faring, 1, km and more from the primary marketplaces? Quite well, if you ask many Queensland indigenous artists and craftspeople.
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Micallef started the business in his house three years ago. With the financial support of a Swiss partner, the business has grown to encompass a large wholesale shed with a retail gallery, due to open in August at Narangbah, as well as a retail outlet at the Gold Coast and a gallery in Lausanne, Switzerland.
In Brisbane, Queensland, year-old painter and glass craftsman John Smith Gumbula is an artist much in demand, currently finishing a major glass commission for the new Criminal Justice Commission building in Creek Street.
But art making for indigenous artists has an importance beyond commerce, he stresses: Darwin museum curator Margie West says this new wave of artists is all ready producing fine work: That is an assessment that may well be true for indigenous art all over Australia. Not to be used without the permission of the author Suggested reading.