Aboriginal (Indigenous Australian) art use to be confined to the desert, painted on rocks, exposed to the air. Now it’s displayed proudly in state galleries, with the most celebrated work selling for millions. The transition started in the 1970’s in Papunya, Central Australia, with an innovative art collective painting on reclaimed scraps of wood and metal.
In this spirit, at Darwin’s Art Gallery, there’s a display of the work of Papunya artist, Michael Nelson Tjakamarra, reproduced on car parts such as bonnets, doors and bumpers. This twist is designed to represent the journeys made by remote aboriginal communities. To travel across the desert, second-hand cars are regularly purchased and driven until they break down, to become part of the rusty landscape.
We loved the colours and the graphics. But to the painters, all the circles and lines tell stories about their Dreamtime spiritual heritage.