Aboriginal spirituality lies in the belief in a cultural landscape. Everything on the vast desert landscape has meaning and purpose. The land is both an external landscape and an 'in scape' – an internal relationship with the Creator. Landmarks are both metaphysical and physical. As an example Uluru can be seen as an epic poem, a source of sacred law, a physical landmark and a repository of knowledge.
Aboriginal people view life as a web of inter relationships where man and nature are partners. Landscape, animals and people are connected. The past is connected to the present.
The acrylic paintings reflect this spirituality. They tell the Aboriginal Dreamtime Stories of ancestral journeys during the Creation period. The Tingari dreaming cycle painted by both Kintore Aboriginal artists and Kiwirrkura Aboriginal artists tell the journeys of the ancestral spirits. Yuendumu Aboriginal artists tell the stories also of ancestral journeys to significant sites such as Mina Mina, near Yuendumu region in Central Australia, a water soakage in the desert and a source of life, depicted in Aboriginal artist Dorothy Napangardi's works.
The Desert Art ultimately is religious art, a document that maintains the records of complex belief system. Aboriginal Art cannot be viewed in isolation from the mythological content. Contemporary Aboriginal Artists by painting are paying their respect to their ancestral Creators and at the same time strengthening their belief systems.
To understand the Aboriginal spirituality (or religious or sacred beliefs) one must understand the time before Creation.
Aboriginal People believe there was a time when the landscape was a vast featureless mass. During the Creation period (the Dreaming) Spirits emerged from the sky and from beneath the earth. They took the form of humans and animals and created the topographical landmarks - Ancestral Rock Paintings, waterholes, hills, mountains and rivers. These Spirits then created all life on earth – the animals and the people.
To sleep under the Southern Sky in the Australian Desert one is overwhelmed by the millions of stars. It is not surprising then that Aboriginal People’s belief system is connected to the night sky and the stars have stories associated with their origins too. Aboriginal People believe that the stars and planets were once men, women and animals during creation. Marlu (Milky Way Dreaming) is of supreme importance both as a visual landmark but also the residence for the ancestral beings. On death, they believe that the body returns to the ancestors to be reborn again – in another form.
The Aboriginal Dreamtime Stories of creation vary from region to region but are underpinned by a connection between all living things. The continuity of the belief systems is passed down from generation to generation by the selected custodians (elders). These elders can be compared with high priests in other societies, those selected for their ability to comprehend the depth of the knowledge and the ability to maintain it in an unchanging way.
Important copyright notice
The Copyright of all images and documentation remains with Sabine Haider. The Australian Copyright Act protects all artists from unauthorised copying by giving control over original works of art to the artist by law. However depending on the use proposed, Sabine Haider from Central Art – Aboriginal Art Store can facilitate reproduction of works with the permission of the artist as we have developed close relationships over the years with many individual painters and craftspeople.
Sign up for newsletter
Be notified of new exhibitions
Track your order