During National Reconciliation Week a unique photo exhibition is being hosted in Melbourne at Trinity Grammar in Kew, curated by our partners in the Arnhem Plateau - Warddeken Land Management.
The images by photographer David Hancock capture Aboriginal rock art that is in danger of being eroded and lost.
While many rock paintings have survived thousands of years, ironically, it's the most recent paintings that are critically endangered — the soft, ephemeral pigments of the most recent paintings are also the most fragile — vulnerable to wind, water, the rubbing of feral animals, fire and the brushing of vegetation now growing in what were once the homes and galleries of the story-tellers.
Asked why the people of the Arnhem Plateau painted in rock shelters, the venerable artist and indigenous leader Lofty Bardayal Nadjamerrek AO explained (translated):
they would be asked by their children to paint illustrations of stories or animals. The children would say "paint it for me!" Parents wanted to explain things to their children.
The vast majority of the tens of thousands of images across the Warddeken Indigenous Area are not sacred paintings in the sense of being set apart from everyday life. They are, as Lofty Nadjamerrek has said, story paintings and many of these are stories from travels, related to the folks who stayed at home on the traveller’s return from the frontier. They are essentially an indigenous body of reportage.
The exhibition will be open daily from 27 May until June 3 at The Daley Gallery (Trinity Grammar), Charles St, Kew. Hours will be from 10am to 3pm weekdays and from 11am to 4pm on the weekend of 31 May and 1 June 2014.
More photos can be viewed online at David Hancock's website.