Australian Indigenous Art

Australian Indigenous Art

Australian indigenous art is almost certainly the oldest form of tradition art you will find anywhere in the world. Indigenous was first expressed in Australia as rock carvings which date to more than 30,000 years, some sources inducate that they could be as old as 50,000 years. Designs on the ground and body painting was also used in those early days.

Culture and variety

In Aboriginal culture, art has always been a part of life which serves to connect the past, the present, the dreamtime, reality, the landscape and it's people.

There is a huge variety of Australian Indigenous Art. The quality found in indigenous art shows the diverse culture and the range of differences between indigenous tribes, including the dialects and languages spoken and the terrain their lives were shaped by.

Today's indigenous art crosses a variety of artistic mediums through paper to canvas glass and wood. Modern techniques, like printmaking, are now used to complement traditional crafts.

Australian Indigenous Art
Australian Indigenous Artists

Influence of art

The way indigenous art has been produced has been altered by the artists' lives and the influence of religious forms and governing bodies. Since the first European explorers came into contact with the Australian Indigenous peoples, trade in artefacts has existed. Colonisation enabled those artefacts to be spread outside Australia and into Asia and beyond.

The prominence and success of indegenous art in today's culture is due in no small way to the efforts of Torres Straits and Aboriginal artists. A huge role has been played by, in particular, painters, who have made not only Australia but the rest of the world aware of the value and rich history of Australian Indigenous Art.

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5 Things You Didn’t Know About Australian Art

What is Australian art?

what is australian art

You may think from the image above that Australian art consists only of the very well known iconic dot paintings by aboriginals. But what are they?

Contemporary Australian Art

A huge amount of contemporary Australian art by Aboriginals is based upon ancient stories plus the symbols are describing what is

known in Aboriginal culture as The Dreamtime. This was the period in history where the Indigenous peoples of Australian believe 

the world was made. These Dreamtime stories could quite possibly be more than 50,000 years old.


The Aboriginal people have no written language. So the important stories that the people's culture are based upon are traditional 

symbols. The stories that are told go are very descriptive and are often interpreted as dance and song. This assists in passing on 

and preserving the culture.


Paintings can and are used for teaching. Paintings are really a visual story. These story paintings are used by Aboriginal people for 

different reasons, and the story can be interpreted according to the attending audience. By that, I mean that the story may be told 

one way for children and another way for an adult audience.

Styles Of Australian Art

Australia prides itself on being multicultural. Did you know that before the arrival of European settlers, there were lots of different 

languages spoken and thus many and varied cultures. Have a look at the map of Indigenous Australia to find out. It is not surprising

that there are many languages, cultures and areas that did and indeed still exist in Australia. Now you may understand why there 

are so many different styles

Who Can Paint Australian Art

If an artist wants to paint an Aboriginal story, he must get permission to do so. In addition to this, even traditional Aboriginal 

artists are not allowed to paint a story that does not belong to their own family’s history.

Finally, a word of advice, when buying Australian Aboriginal art, please make sure that it really is authentic. There are, 

unfortunately, those who paint in the indigenous style and say the work is Aboriginal when it is not.

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