By Peter Neng 2009

The ancient culture of the Aboriginal people in Australia is one of the oldest in the world. It is rich in art, ceremonial rituals, and healing methods which are inextricably linked with the natural and spiritual world. Aboriginal art is also fundamentally linked with what the Aboriginal people call, ‘Dreamtime.’ According to legend, Dreamtime was the period when ancestral beings played their part in creation.

Each Aboriginal person’s totem and dreamtime is determined by the place in the landscape where the mother feels the first signs of being pregnant. At this time the unborn child receives the spirit of the totemic ancestor. So, the child of a mother who feels the signs of being pregnant in the Utopia region of Australia will receive the dreaming of ancestors in this region, which reflects the spirit of this land.

Aboriginal artists who have received the dreaming of Utopia often portray wild flower dreaming after the rain. This dreaming depicts the transformation of the dry red desert into an array of colours after the rainfall. Aboriginal Artists from this region also portray bush berry dreaming which honours the spirit of this plant. Bushy Berry, being an important part of bush tucker.

Emily Kame Kngwarreye is one of the most contemporary Aboriginal artists to emerge from Utopia. Her dreaming was Yam, Wildflowers and Body Paint. Her art is now much sought after by collectors of Aboriginal art. She began painting on canvas when she was in her seventies. When asked what she paints she answered, ‘The whole lot,’ and when she was asked how long she had been painting for, she replied, ‘my whole life.’ She was of course referring to the sacred body painting rituals which are a way of life for the Aboriginal people.

To find out more about art why not check out the articles on Michael Sowa Prints and Michael Sowa Paintings

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