Collection: Wadeye Barks

23 July - 10 August

Wadeye, also known as Port Keats, is a remote Aboriginal community located in the Northern Territory. Situated approximately 230 kilometres southwest of Darwin, Wadeye is one of the largest Aboriginal towns in the region and is renowned for its rich cultural traditions and vibrant artistic heritage.

Aboriginal bark paintings from Port Keats are a vivid expression of the region's cultural heritage. These paintings are created using natural materials, with the artists harvesting bark from specific trees and preparing it through a meticulous process. Natural ochres and pigments, sourced on country, are then used to craft intricate designs and narratives on the bark surface.

The art form is deeply intertwined with the spiritual and cultural life of the Wadeye community. Each painting serves as a visual storytelling medium, depicting Dreamtime stories, ancestral beings, and significant cultural events. These narratives are not only artistic expressions but also educational tools that pass down knowledge and traditions through generations.

The style of Wadeye bark paintings is characterized by intricate patterns, symbolic motifs, and vibrant earthy colours. Common themes include totemic animals, clan symbols, and representations of the natural landscape. These artworks reflect the profound connection between the Aboriginal people of Wadeye and their environment, illustrating their spiritual beliefs and cultural identity.

This particular collection comprises 12 works that have been held in a private collection for approximately 30 years, although the pieces themselves are significantly older.

Through these bark paintings, the artists of Port Keats continue to preserve and celebrate their heritage, offering a window into their world for contemporary audiences to appreciate and understand.

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