Aboriginal artists living in the desert have many of the same beliefs as those living in Arnhem Land and the Kimberley region. If you need to, please refresh your memory on what those beliefs are.
In the 1950s, the Aborigines from several desert areas were moved to Papunya in the center of Australia. The Aborigines were forced to move because the Australian government needed their land to graze cattle on. The government also wanted to mine on the Aborigines’ land. The Aborigines were not happy about the move.
Most Aborigines living in the desert had lost interest in creating art. But in 1971, a teacher encouraged them to paint murals. He brought art supplies to the Aborigines, and children and adults alike began to love creating art. This love of art spread and now many desert artists earn their livings painting.
In Aboriginal desert art, you’ll see a lot of circles. These circles are usually meant to show water holes. Water, as you can imagine, is very important in the desert. Sometimes the circles are holes that have been dug by animals.
Sometimes desert artists paint animals, but you will notice far more animal tracks than actual animals in their art work.
Desert art includes a lot of concentric shapes. This means that the artist paints a shape, then outlines it in another color, then another color, then another color. Usually, these shapes are made up of many tiny dots. You’ve seen dots in Aboriginal art from Arnhem Land and Kimberley, but the desert artists often cover nearly their entire pieces with dots. To me, the dots look like grains of sand. What do you think?
Desert artists are also known for painting on objects such as boomerangs, water carriers, rocks, and even bodies.
Enjoy this gallery and this gallery of Aboriginal art from the desert. If you click on a painting, you can read its story.
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