When we are in Dreamtime; nanga mai

14 Sep

When I stepped into the Jungara Aboriginal Art Gallery, it was like everything in my body recognized what it had been missing: art. creativity. expression. an outlet.

Fittingly enough, A also stands for Aboriginals. So oy mate, put on your artist cap and take a journey through Dreamtime, or nanga mai, with me and a few awesome artists who work on canvas.

Minne Pwerle is the first artist that caught my eye. She comes from a family of eight kids, all of whom create some fine masterpieces. She was born sometime between 1910 and 1922 and didn’t start painting on canvas until she was in her eighties! She lived on the Utopia Station, in far North Queensland (did you know that Australia is roughly the size of the U.S. of A!?).

I won’t go into too much detail because I don’t know how inspired you will be, but take a moment to look at some of her art work. Each piece holds in an interpretation of nanga mai or perhaps an interpretation of the local crops or food. She was known for working spontaneously and boldly. Her colors, I can assure you, are mesmerizing. I would love to own a piece or two of her work. Anyone have AUD $20K?

For instance, this one is called Awelye Atnwengerrp“which depicts the bush tomato and the wild desert orange”

This one, also called Awelye Atnwengerrp: depicts dance tracks.

This one, from the Jungara Aboriginal Art Gallery in Cairns was one of my favorites. Perhaps because it fits with Darren’s physics background? It is done by Terrise King, a resident in Darwin.

Big Water

A lot of Aboriginal men also create beautiful works of art. I think the thing that amazes me the most is that most of the art, such as the one above and below, are done with a series of dots. When you come to Australia this is perhaps the most common form of art to see and purchase.

This one is done by Jimmy Robertson Jampijimpa (1944 – 2002)

I think what draws me to this type of art is the strong and vibrant colors. It’s abstract, but once you realize that they are depicting nanga mai, or seeds, or types of crops in the paintings, it’s not so abstract I am lost.

If you are looking for something to do on a Friday or Saturday night, perhaps you will consider heading out to a gallery which has some indigenous or native art on show and read about the history and background of the piece. Maybe the next day, have a go at creating your own native inspired art?

Now I am going to head home and get to work with my new paints to see what I can create from these inspirations!


One Response to “When we are in Dreamtime; nanga mai”


  1. When We Let Ourselves Go. | Adisoz's Blog - October 3, 2010

    […] opened my curiosity to Aboriginal art. I know I posted about it a while ago (which you can rehash here), but ever since then I have been on fire for painting in this […]

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