This collection musters compelling evidence that, alongside the clear continuity of tradition in bark painting, there is also an openness to innovation. In recent decades, since women began producing bark paintings in quantity, the aesthetic is evidently shifting in surprising ways. The cohort of women is represented by major works – by the Yunupingu sisters, Nongirrna Marawili and Mulkun Wirrpanda for example.
By and large bark paintings propagate ancestral imagery (known to us also through rock paintings): clan designs, totemic animals, hunting scenes and representations of ceremonial events – all of which express myriad layers of relationship, custodianship and continuous connection between people and Country. These images reaffirm the sacred significance of the land. Furthermore, bark paintings have been and continue to be, a medium of exchange, communication and assertion of culture.
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