Sunday, July 08, 2012

Australian Aboriginal art is Barking up a different tree.

In Australia, famous for bark paintings by Aboriginal artists, paper is moving up as an alternative medium to bark. 

The advantages for artists, and buyers is that paper is readily available year-round, while bark can only be harvested from trees during and after the December-June wet season. Removing the bark kills the tree. 

Paper, on the other hand, is cotton-based. It's also much easier to ship. As Aboriginal art has become more popular, with demand in distant places, shipping costs and difficulties have become important factors. Bark is a problem in this regard. 

Warping and becoming moldy can make the bark unattractive and undesirable for hanging. As bark gets older, brittleness and cracking similarly diminish it's appeal and marketability. 

Archival paper has a density and texture similar to the surface of bark, which accepts ochre paints well. Guache is used to prepare the surface for painting.

Some of our favorite images on paper come from Injalak near Oenpelli in the North of Australia.  They report that paper is responsible for more than 75% of their painting sales. As important as paper has become, cultural fidelity places the decision of what medium to use in the hands of the artist.

This one was done by Larry Nalorman of Oenpelli

More examples of Australian Aboriginal bark-style paintings on bark and paper can be seen here

No comments: