Oenpelli Old Bark Python Bark Painting (AP008)
Description of item:
Eucalyptus Bark & natural earth ochre’s; aged; 1970’s.
Length: 103 cm (40.5 inches)
Height: 32 cm (12.6 inches)
The bark paintings of northern Australia are one of the continent’s most distinguished art forms and the most prolific bark painters are the peoples of Arnhem Land. They share techniques, pigments and iconography with the region’s ancient rock art traditions. The style of Oenpelli bark painting originates from the Aboriginal rock painting. Bark paintings are designs painted in earth ochres on the sheets of bark from ‘stringy-bark’ eucalyptus trees. The themes in Aboriginal art are expressed in a complex system of symbols and patterns given to the first people by the creation ancestors. Each clan has its own Dreaming or mythological origin and its own symbols to express this; the designs are therefore owned by clans and not by individuals. Through the act of painting scared designs on the bodies of ceremonial dancers, on cylindrical coffins or on specially constructed ritual emblems, the participants, both painters and dancers can receive some of the ritual power inherent in these designs. The ancestor is somehow present in them and by restating them the artist is reaffirming his Dreaming and his connection to and ownership of lands.
Kjellgren, E. ‘Oceania: Art of the Pacific Islands in the Metropolitan Museum of Art’, (2007: 143).