A new exhibition of twenty works from the permanent collection titled Heart of the Desert will open on Tuesday and includes paintings from the Aboriginal communities of Papunya, Yuendumu and Balgo.
The central desert of Australia stretches from Lake Eyre in the southeast to the Kimberley Plateau in the northwest. This vast and diverse area is the homeland to people representing many different language and culture groups.
Traditional art from this region was painted on the body or drawn in the sand. Such ephemeral images have inspired more permanent and contemporary art forms, specifically acrylic paintings on board and canvas.
Beginning in 1971 at a government settlement called Papunya, Aboriginal men produced paintings on masonite, wood and eventually canvas. This activity grew into a major art movement that radiated out to the neighboring communities of Yuendumu and Balgo. Men and women artists in each place distinguished their own local style of painting by varying elements like the palette of colors and quality of dots.
The iconography of desert paintings typically represent features of the landscape, ancestral beings and their activities in the creation era known as the Dreaming (Tjukurrpa/Jukurrpa). The concentric circles, wavy lines, and animal tracks that make up the primary design elements of the art of central Australia, express a traditional body of knowledge and relationship to land that has persisted for thousands of years.