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Aboriginal Artbook

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by Dieter and Lilian Schmidt

Text of Aboriginal Artbook

  • A B O R I G I N A L A R TC O L L E C T I O N

  • Introduction 04

    Barbara Weir 06

    Anna Price Petyarre 08

    Kathleen Petyarre 10

    Janelle Stockman Napaltjarri 12

    Ronnie Tjampitjinpa 14

    Minnie Pwerle 16

    Betsy Napangardi Lewis 22

    Bill Whiskey Tjapaltjarri 24

    Dolly Petyarre Mills 28

    Evelyn Pultara 30

    Freddie Timms 34

    Gloria Tamerre Petyarre 36

    Jack Dale 42

    Judy Napangardi Watson 44

    Kenny Williams Tjampitjinpa 48

    Kudditiji Kngwarreye 50

    Liddy Napanangka Walker 58

    Mary Anne Nampijinpa Michaels 60

    Ningura Napurrula 62

    Tjunkiya Napaltjarri 64

    Wendy Darby 66

    Wentja Napaltjarri 68

    Gracie Ward Napaltjarri 70

    Jeannie Mills Pwerl 72

    M. J. Sally Gabori 74

    Gordon Syron 76

    Roy Mcivor 78

    Sarrita King 80

    Mervyn Numbagardie 82

    Jorna Newberry 84

    Alma Nungurrayi Granites 86

    Nyree Ngari Reynolds 88

    Dawn Ngala Wheeler 100

    C O L L E C T I O N B Y D I E T E R & L I L I A N S C H M I D T

    A B O R I G I N A L A R T

  • Australian Aboriginal art is one of the oldest continu-ing art traditions in the world. Much of the most impor-tant knowledge of aboriginal society was conveyed through different kinds of storytelling including narratives that were spoken, performed as dances or songs, and those that were painted.

    Traditional symbols are an essential part of much con-temporary Aboriginal art. Aboriginal peoples have long artistic traditions within which they use conventi-onal designs and symbols.

    These designs when applied to any surface, whether on the body of a person taking part in a ceremony or on a shield, have the power to transform the object to one with religious significance and power. Australian Aboriginal contemporary traditional work depicts the-mes connected to the Dreamtime and are frequent-ly called Dreamings

    The Dreamtime is the period in which creative acts were performed by the first ancestors of men -- spirits, heros and heroines, who established the pattern of nature and life, and created mans environment.

    The Dreamtime is a process as well as a period: it had its beginning when the world was young and unfor-med, but it has never ceased. The ancestor who esta-blished law and patterns of behavior is as alive today as when he performed his original creative acts. The sacred past, the Dreamtime, is for Aborigines also the sacred present, the Eternal Dreamtime.


    Dreaming does not convey the fullness of the con-cept for Aboriginal people, but is the most acceptable English word to Aboriginal people. The word is accep-table because very often revelations or insights are received in dreams or recurring visions. The Dreaming refers to all that is known and all that is understood. It

    is the way Aboriginal people explain life and how their world came into being. It is central to the existence of traditional Aboriginal people, their lifestyle and their culture, for it determines their values and beliefs and their relationship with every living creature and every feature of the landscape.


    The Dreaming tells of the journeys and deeds of crea-tor ancestors. The creator ancestors made the trees, rocks, waterholes, rivers, mountains and stars, as well as the animals and plants, and their spirits inhabit these features of the natural world today. Good and bad behaviours are demonstrated in Dreaming sto-ries as ancestors hunt, marry, care for children and defend themselves from their enemies.


    The Dreaming is often understood as a period of time, but this European concept of a unit of time in past does not contain the full meaning. The Dreaming is not some long past era but a continuous entity, from which people come, which people renew and which people go back to.

    Art is one of the ways through which Aboriginal peo-ple communicate with and maintain a oneness with the Dreaming. When people take on the characteris-tics of the Dreaming ancestors through dance, song and art and when they maintain sacred sites, the spi-rits of the creator ancestors are renewed.


    For Aboriginal people who follow traditional beliefs, the Dreaming is intensely personal. Each person is linked to it by his or her individual Dreaming (or to-tem). This belief involves the idea that the creator ancestors, who were physically alive in the natural features of the landscape in which they once moved.




    It is the natural world, which therefore provides the link between the people and the Dreaming, especially the land (or country) to which a person belongs.

    Aboriginal people see themselves as related to, and part of, this natural world and know its features in in-tricate detail. This relationship carries responsibilities for its survival and continuity so that each person has special obligations to protect and preserve the spirit of the land and the life forms that are a part of it.


    The Dreaming is as important to Aboriginal people as the Christian Bible and the whole ethos of Christian belief is to the devout Christian.

    The Dreaming is still vitally important to todays Abori-ginal people. It gives a social and spiritual base and links them to their cultural heritage. Many Aboriginal people are Christian as well as having a continuing belief in their Dreaming.

    In some areas, where Aboriginal people may no lon-ger have the full knowledge of their Dreaming, they still retain strong spirituality, kinship practices and tra-ditional values and beliefs.


    Aboriginal people traditionally used the materials available to them to symbolise the Dreaming and their world. As a result, art forms varied in different are-as of Australia.

    In the central desert, ground drawing was a very im-portant style of art, and throughout Australia rock art as well as body painting and decoration were com-mon, although varying in styles, method, materials and meaning. There is and was a wide range of tradi-tional Aboriginal art forms.





    Synthetic Polymer on Canvas120 x 90 cm


    Barbara Weir was born in 1945 at what was formerly

    known as Bundy River Station in the region of Utopia,

    240 km northeast of Alice Springs. Her country is Atnwen-

    gerrp and her language is Anmatyerre and Alyawarr.

    Barbaras mother is Aboriginal and her father is Irish, and

    because she was a child of mixed parentage she was

    taken away from her family at the age of nine. During

    these years she lost contact with her family, but was de-

    termined to return and reclaim her heritage.

    In the late 1960s she finally returned to Utopia with her

    six children, to be reunited with the famous late Emily

    Kame Kngwarreye who had looked after her as a small

    child. She began to relearn the languages of her peo-

    ple. Through her renewed special relationship with Emily

    Kngwarreye, Barbaras talent and interest in art was en-

    couraged and began to flourish.

    Barbara Weirs Dreamings are: Bush Berry, Grass Seed,

    Wild Flower and My Mothers Country, which she paints

    with an explosive mixture of Aboriginal spirituality and

    modern white culture. She is represented in major priva-

    te and public collections including the Holmes a Court

    Collection and the Art Gallery of South Australia.

    In the Utopia region, there are many varieties of grasses to be

    found. One such type is found in the spinifex, sand plains, and

    sandhills that produce a seed that is collected, crushed and

    made into a paste to produce a bread that the people eat.

    This grass can grow up to 15 cm high and is reddish in colour.

    It is found throughout the year, but is particularly abundant

    after a fall of rain. Due to the grazing of cattle and rabbits the

    grass is not as plentiful and the seeds are harder to collect.

    In years gone, the Aboriginal people collected these seeds in

    a most unusual way. Due to the seeds ripening at different sta-

    ges, many would fall to the ground and be covered by sand

    and lost from view. The Aboriginal people would look for the

    nesting site of a particular ant.

    This ant, collected the seeds, and ate a certain portion and

    then discarded the rest. The discarded seeds would be found

    in a pile just outside the nest, where it was collected, cleaned

    and then ground into a thick paste to produce the damper or

    bread - an important source of food for the Aboriginal people.

    The practice of making this bread is not in much use today,

    due to the introduction of ready made bread.

    This grass is important to Barbara. The small brush strokes in

    warm colours overlap and weave to create a swaying effect

    like the movement of native grass. The Dreaming for this grass

    seed has been passed down to her by her ancestors.


  • 07




    Acrylic on Canvas148 x 90 cm


    Anna Price Petyarre is an eastern Anmatyerre woman,

    born at Utopia in 1960. Annas home is Atneltyeye,

    Boundary Bore, on the Utopia Homelands, approximate-

    ly 220 km from Alice Springs.

    She lives there with her family. She is a grandmother with

    five grandchildren. Anna, whose mother was the late ar-

    tist Glory Ngal