Thanks to Tim Lee and ABC Landline crew for the great job they did helping Warddeken get the story of the crisis in rock art conservation out to the public. And well done Jesse and Catherine who were great on camera. Follow link on my earlier post to watch the whole story online.
On this day in 1940, a group of school boys discovered the Lascaux cave paintings in France. Read a very cool account of the discovery in a 1941 issue of The Journal of the Royal Society of Antiquaries of Ireland.
More on representation of horses in Western Arnhem Land contact rock art.
The horse in the picture at the top, next to Samuel Namundja, was drawn by someone having difficulty sorting horse and kangaroo anatomy. The horse is very kangaroo-like.
In the painting below the artist has a firm grip on horse anatomy, other than issues of scale for head and body. Pipe-smoking riders sharing one horse is not something you would see every day and the intention seems to be humorous and quirky.
It seems reasonable to conclude the painting at the top was drawn by someone who experienced horses only briefly before putting brush to rock while the artist below had spent more time amongst the white people and their beasts.
Both photographs are by David Hancock and are from the Fragile First Impressions exhibition being shown in-house at the conservators conference of the International Council of Museums currently happening in Melbourne.
When European artists first arrived in Australia they struggled to draw the local fauna and flora. Their landscape art had an “englishness” about it and kangaroos and other Australian fauna had an unnatural resemblance to foxes, stoats and the like.
Not surprisingly, Aboriginal artists faced the same problem when they first encountered European beasts.
These paintings from a site in Djok clan country, Western Arnhem Land make the point quite visually.
The artists were well used to drawing kangaroos. The horses they drew were influenced by a mental macropod template for large mammals — big back legs, small front legs and looking like they are bounding rather than running.
We believe these pictures may have been painted in about 1865 when Captain Frances Cadell put a mob of horses ashore on the Liverpool River and went exploring on horseback.
The paintings are part of the Fragile First Impressions Exhibition of photographs of contact rock art from Western Arnhem Land at the International Council of Museums Conference here in Melbourne this week. The photographs were taken by Top End photojournalist David Hancock.
The show is open only to delegates to the conference but we hope to show it later in Canberra, Darwin and maybe Sydney.
Will keep you posted.
Painted sometime between the mid-nineteenth century and early twentieth century this humourous depiction of two pipe-smoking Europeans riding a horse is located high on the rugged Arnhem Plateau at Bodbang Workwork near the Liverpool River in Djorrorlom clan country.
Warddeken Land Management’s rock art conservation program seeks to preserve and restore relationships as well as conserve images.
Lachlan Jumbirri grew up at Manyallaluk near Katherine hearing stories of his country from his father but was not able to visit that country until a trip sponsored by Warddeken in 2004. Lachlan’s family history is like many from the Warddeken diaspora, people who left the country for various reasons but who, through reasons of marriage or of health issues, or indeed of getting sustained access to 20th century western “essentials” were unable to return.
Moving back permanently to country remains too hard for many of their descendants today, but Warddeken assists where it can reconnecting country and people and in particular with keeping new generations in touch with their heritage and management responsibilities.
In March this year Lachlan brought his sons Seth and Oscar to see the art sites at Bodbang Workwork (pictured).
These images and 34 others can be seen in room 101 at the Melbourne Conference and Exhibition Centre during ICOM-CC 2014.
Is this from the REAL real Banksy? Who knows, but it seems the right picture as Melbourne prepares to welcome about 800 delegates to the 17th Triennial Conference of the International Council of Museums Committee for Conservation (ICOM-CC).
The conference will attract leading international keynote speakers and up to 800 delegates, including conservators, scientists, historians and art historians, curators, librarians, archivists, students, collection managers and directors from the world’s leading cultural institutions and the private sector.
The conference offers technical sessions of the twenty-one specialist working groups, keynote speeches, behind the scenes visits to local conservation laboratories and sites of historic interest, cultural and social events as well as numerous opportunities to meet and forge ties with colleagues from every region of the world.
Warddeken Land Management, managers of the Warddeken Indigenous Protected Area in Arnhem Land have brought an exhibition of photographs of rock art to the Melbourne Conference and Exhibition Centre and it will be open to conference members and the public in Room 101 at the MCEC from lunchtime Monday 15 to COB Friday 19 September.
The photographic exhibition, entitled Fragile First Impressions, features photographic work by Top End photo-journalist David Hancock.
The theme is first contact between the Aboriginal people of the Arnhem Plateau and europeans, as depicted by Aboriginal artists in the caves of the plateau. Most of the images are indeed the first impressions of the settler frontier by adventurous indigenous people who went down from the plateau to buffalo camps, tin mines, pastoral properties and later Christian missions.
They painted these images to illustrate their stories when they returned to the folks who stayed at home.
Over the coming week I’ll share some pictures and stories from the show here on Tumblr. I will be at the show most of time during the week to share the story of Warddeken and the rock art treasures of Western Arnhem Land.