Australian Aborigines settled on the Australian continent somewhere between 60,000 and 80,000 years ago. They are the oldest continuous culture on the planet. They survived mainly because of their reverence and “oneness with nature”. Their art is a direct reflection of their beliefs. Indigenous art is centered on storytelling and there is no written language for Australian Aboriginal People. To convey their important cultural stories through the generations they are portrayed by symbols, dots, and designs in their paintings , known as “Dreamings”.
Traditionally paintings were drawn on rock walls or sand, using ground pigments to form watercolors. In 1971, a school teacher named Geoffrey Bardon was working with Aboriginal children near Alice Springs. He noticed while the Aboriginal men were telling stories they would draw symbols in the sand, so he encouraged them to paint their stories onto canvas and board. This was a major development in the history of art. It began the Aboriginal Art movement, which has been identified as the most exciting and influential contemporary art form of the 20th Century. Contemporary Aboriginal Artists work can be seen in all of the major musuem collections and galleries throughout the world.