Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Aboriginal art makes the long trek to China

THE works are large and bold. Most were created in the central Australian community of Papunya in the 1970s when the Aboriginal art movement was starting to gather pace.

In Canberra yesterday, some of those early pieces were being packed in crates by staff at the National Museum of Australia, ahead of an eagerly-awaited show in China.

"What made this exhibition attractive to the National Art Museum of China is that it's not just about art," said Michael Pickering, director of the museum's Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander program. "It comes with full stories about the works, full interpretations, biographies. They (the Chinese) quite literally said they were hungry for information about Aboriginal culture."

The museum's Papunya exhibition, made up of 48 artworks and 18 ethnographic objects, will go on show in Beijing from next month.

The collection spans 1974 to 1981, the early years of a movement that would become admired and imitated as well as keenly pursued by collectors.

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