Grade 1
Aboriginal Australian Art

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Aboriginal Australian Art

All artists and art information for this portfolio is on this page only.

About this portfolio

There are about 24 prints of aboriginal Australian art in this portfolio. Five have been selected for first grade students because of their simple basic shapes of fish, stingray and turtle that could be easily incorporated into pictures for this age group. If you would like to see the other art prints, please contact the BATS director. It is recommended that the child use smaller size art paper to allow time to develop the traditional background designs in bright colors.

The art of Aboriginal Australia is the last great tradition of art to be appreciated by the art world. Dating back to at least fifty millennia, it has been relatively unknown until the second half of the 20th century. Rock engravings and rock paintings, scattered throughout the Australian continent, are among the best remaining forms of aboriginal art. In Arnhem Land, paintings in the caves were made 50,000 years ago while the paintings in Altamira and Lascaux date back 14,000 to 17,000 years ago, a much more recent time.

Aboriginal Australian art is more than dots, shapes, and scribbles or carving on rock. The art has meaning. Today artists are recreating images important to their culture in an effort to preserve their heritage.

Tiwi Artists

Members of the Tiwi Clan live on Bathurst Island and Melville Islands just off the northern coast of Australia. These two islands are designated an Aboriginal Reserve. Most residents speak Tiwi, with English as a second language. The islands were inhabited long before European settlement of Australia.

The creation on indigenous Australian art is an important part of Tiwi Island culture and its economy. Tourists come to the islands to meet the artists and see the art created.



Dianne Tipungwuti, Tiwi Clan, (Bathurst Island)
Pigment with sizing on paper, 21 x 28 inches

About this image:
The stingray is an important food source in the costal areas of the Northern Territories. The artist pays homage to the stingray by placing it as the point of interest in this Tiwi painting.



Maryanne Tungatalum, Tivi Clan, (Bathurst Island)
Gouache on paper 22 x 34 inches

About this image:
This fish is a favorite food of the aborigines. The x-ray design of the innards of fish are done in some clans (see Radjerra print), but this artist chose to break up the space and fill it with Tiwi designs. The barramundi fish is a very important “ancestor creation.” Some clans believe the barramundi formed the bends and meanders in the river system.



Maree Puruntatameri, Tiwi Clan (Melville Island)
Gouache on paper, 24 x 36 inches

About this image:
This could be a ground mosaic influence where everything is make up of chopped leaves, flowers, and feathers. The ground mosaic is prepared for special ceremonies and destroyed by dancing during the ceremony.


Turtle Against Pattern Stripes

Shirley Tipungwuti, Tiwi Clan (Melville Island)
Gouache on paper, 19 x 27 inches

About this image:
This painting uses familiar Tiwi patterns in brighter colors that the usual earth tones. The turtle appears to be floating in space against a patterned background.



Doris Gingingara, Arnhem Land, Australia
Screenprint, Ed. 95. 28 x 34 inches

About this image:
This artist shows the internal structure of the fish, which is known as the x-ray style, and is traditional in their art. Line patterns often identify clans. The fish, (barramundi) is a favorite food of the aborigines.