Sunday, December 23, 2007

The Art Scene

We departed Ayers Rock by plane to Alice Springs. We would layover there for the day before heading on to Cairns. Hunter had been in “the Alice” last August on his trip and had become captivated with Anangu art. Two galleries, in particular, were on his list.

I was starting to become familiar with the symbols in this art scene from some of the wall paintings Wally had shown us yesterday. Wall painting is not really the right term. They were blackboards in the rock that were used to teach the children. These symbols were also painted on the body or on a shield or etched in the sand. It wasn’t until the great “assimilation fiasco” of the late 1960’s when various peoples were herded into education camps that an observant art teacher (yea for art teachers!!!) encouraged adults and children to use paint on canvas to tell these stories.

I learned so much yesterday in the two art galleries we went to that it is hard to share it all. But the result of what I learned is that I can “read” an aboriginal painting much better than I could two days ago. I know the symbols, I have a sense of what colors and symbols are used in what regions of Australia, and I could probably tell a man’s painting from a woman’s painting. You see the same rules apply to paintings … you can only tell your story … you cannot tell someone else’s story. So artists are restricted in the stories they can tell in their paintings.

We were terribly disappointed to find one of the galleries where I am sure we might have bought something, was closed for no obvious reason. But we did meet a very interesting gallery owner in the gallery above the closed one and she was very generous with her time and explanations. Moreover, in the course of our time there 4 or 5 women artists came through and picked up a black gessoed canvas and started to paint right there on the floor of the gallery.

Before we departed "the Alice" for Cairns I dined on a plate of various outback meats.

for those interested... we are in DAY 5 of the lost bag saga and counting.

No comments: