In today’s super relaxing activity we learned about Aboriginal art and then painted our own designs onto wooden boomerangs.
We started the lesson by discussing what we already knew (or thought we knew about aboriginal art) and then we did a short reading to learn more about the history.
Aboriginal art mostly depicts the Dreaming – stories about the creation of the universe and the natural environment -, but did you know that Aboriginal painting onto canvas is actually quite a modern invention? It originated in the early 70s when an art teacher for Aboriginal children near Alice Springs, noticed that when Aboriginal men were telling their stories they would draw symbols to illustrate their words in the sand.
SYMBOLS & COLOURS
The symbols show a view of what something looks like from above. For example, a U-shape represents a man or a woman because that’s what a person sitting cross-legged looks like from above. And the colours used were originally obtained from the local land. Ochre or iron clay pigments were used to produce colours such as white, yellow, red and black was derived from charcoal. This is why most aboriginal art has an earthy palette.
After seeing these symbols, Bardon encouraged his students to use them to create a mural for the school walls. The mural was based on traditional stories (Dreamings), and the project was such a success that soon many of the adults took up painting as well.
However, as aspects of the Dreamings are sacred, the Aboriginals were worried that the secrets they painted were being seen not only by Westerners, but Aboriginal people from different regions. They did not want them to understand or learn the restricted parts of their stories so the artists decided to abstract the designs into dots to conceal their meanings.
OUR PAINTING PROCESS
After learning the basics, we were ready to start designing our boomerangs. Each student got a page of symbols and and some boomerang outlines to practise sketching their design before they started painting. To get us in the mood, we listened to a Xavier Rudd playlist as we worked.
We used acrylic paint to create our designs and a combination of cotton buds, cocktail sticks and old dried out texters to make the dots. Some students stuck very closely to the traditional symbols and colours while others were more adventurous. If you’ve never tried dot painting, I highly recommend it. It’s very relaxing indeed.
The final boomerangs really were pieces of art. Most students went for a traditional style and colour while others were more adventurous. However, everyone agreed that it was a really fun and informative activity, and most were very happy with the results.
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