AB : Land that was the basis of intimate indigenous co-existence, custodianship and spiritual custom was to the British brutishly harsh and difficult terrain. The initial visual responses to these alien landscapes by the colonisers were both symbolic and symptomatic of colonisation itself. Have you seen the paintings of Sydney scrubland by early artists? They were rendered as lush rolling English hills or Swiss Alps, and native fauna, like kangaroos and platypus, were transformed into caricatures of familiar English animals.
Imposing European cultural sensibilities on an exotic setting tamed the incomprehensible country and asserted imperial rights: the realities of the Australian landscape were denied along with the traditional owners of the land. Emily Kame Kngwarreye painting Earth's Creation , Photo by Gemma Page. JG : Yet for many Aboriginal people the land is linked to a complex visual language of tribal mythology. Fiona Foley, HHH 1 Gordon Bennett, Death of the Ahistorical Subject Courtesy the artist and National Gallery of Australia.
BB : And Richard Bell highlights neo-colonialist practices in the art market itself. Image courtesy www.
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BM : One of the most prominent modern indigenous symbols is the flag designed by Harold Thomas in The black half of the flag represents the Aboriginal people of Australia, the red half represents the red earth, the red ochre used in ceremonies and spiritual relation to the land, and the central yellow disk represents the sun, the giver of life and protector. JG : The flag is now recognised as an official flag by the Australian Government, but its role as a symbol of resistance and unity for Aboriginal people began when it was adopted as the official flag of the Aboriginal Tent Embassy in Canberra an enduring makeshift protest camp on the lawns of the Old Parliament House in Today, it flies in front of government buildings, schools and sports grounds alongside the Australian flag, itself a tired symbol of empire with the Union Jack stuck in the top right corner.
Photo by Philip M. Uluru at sunset. Photo by Jane Bligh. The massive sandstone rock stands incredible against the desert backdrop — a landscape that was formed, according to the Anangu people, in an ancient process of creation and destruction.
There are endless echoes of the Aboriginal flag in the landscape. T-shirt commemorating the partial handback of Uluru-Kata Tjuta National Park to traditional owners in The Uluru graphic reinterprets the Aboriginal flag. BB : Well, they say , people a year ignore the signs from traditional owners asking tourists not to climb. The land rights for Uluru were partially passed over to the traditional owners 25 years ago, yet the Government continually refuses prohibition of the climb.
Chips Mackinolty, Land rights dance , screen printed poster Courtesy National Gallery of Australia. Stephen Nothling Black Banana , I want your food , screen printed poster Courtesy the artist. JG : And by designers too. Along with indigenous practitioners, many non-indigenous artists and poster collectives made screen-printed images in support of Aboriginal land rights, health and education initiatives, and issues around cultural awareness.
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Workshops like Redback Graphix, Garage Graphics and Earthworks Poster Collective, and print makers such as Michael Callaghan, Chips Mackinolty and Marie McMahon made significant contributions to campaigns for indigenous rights with graphic expressions of solidarity and reconciliation; all really important inspiration for Inkahoots. Activist Gary Foley with a placard protesting the South African Springboks rugby tour of Australia in during apartheid. Painting over an official sign in Brisbane.
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