Across the Central and Western Desert

When first raising the subject of Aboriginal art, many people will think of the 'dot paintings' from the Central and Western Desert of Australia. However since it first hit the commercial art scene in the early 1970s, Aboriginal art from this area has become so much more. What stands out the most is diversity of art making that comes out from this huge and sparsely populated area. Some artists use what is associated with 'traditional' Aboriginal art; earthy ochres and the symbolic language used for animal tracks, watering holes and camps. While others embrace fluorescent colours and different styles to paint their dreaming. In this curation there are artworks from a range of art centres that have partnered with Bluethumb, the stunning array of diversity not only seen between the art centres, but between the artists themselves. Artwork 1 - 5 First up are artworks from Warlukurlangu art centre, situated in the community Yuendumu, one of the most successful and longest running just north out of Alice Spring on the Tanami Road. The mostly Warlpiri artists here use bright and vibrant colours and their own unique styles to paint their dreaming. Artwork 6-9 Then we move further south along the MacDonnell Ranges to Haasts Bluff and the Ikuntji Artists. Here we see some of the more commonly used symbolic motifs and ochre colours of the desert against the striking and different visual language of Gordon Butcher. Artwork 10 - 13 The Papulankutja Artists who live across into Western Australia in the Blackstone Community is included next. These artist have beautiful indigo palettes and the brush strokes and line work seem to flow and dapple across the canvas. Artwork 14 - 17 Relatively close by, but further north, are the artists from Tjatlirli Art centre. These three paintings represent the Seven Sisters story, an epic story that crosses across the desert where seven sisters are chased by a man who wants them for wives and eventually chases them into the sky, where they become what is also known as the Pleiades constellation. From this we can see the unique diversity and creativity that comes from Australia's Red Centre that is so much more than just 'dot painting'.

Curated by Brooke Ainscow

About the Curator

Brooke Ainscow

Brooke has completed a Bachelor of Fine Arts from Monash University majoring in Printmedia. Disheartened in pursuing a career in printmaking she decided to further her studies in art history completing a Postgraduate Certificate in Art History and then going on to complete her Masters degree in Art Curatorship at The University of Melbourne. During her masters degree she undertook an internship here at Bluethumb and excelled in her major interests of Australian Indigenous art and cultural collection management.

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