Enjoy one of Australia’s largest public collections of Aboriginal art in Sydney. The beautiful works are wonderful insights into Aboriginal culture, from Dreaming stories to contemporary themes. In the Art Gallery of NSW is an extraordinary indigenous collection, including exquisite Western Desert art.
You can also buy authentic Aboriginal arts and crafts at recognised private galleries and at indigenous cultural centres, such as Muru Mittigar Aboriginal Cultural and Education Centre in Blacktown. Indigenous artist co-operative Boomalli holds exhibitions in its galleries in Leichardt.
Some of the oldest forms of Aboriginal art are engravings and paintings in rock shelters, in caves and on bark. In Ku-ring-gai Chase National Park, in Sydney’s north, are the Red Hands Cave paintings and rock engravings. Other sites for rock engravings include the Royal National Park in Sydney’s south.
Aboriginal art styles today include contemporary paintings and photography, sculptures made from grasses and wood, glassware, bark paintings, hand-printed fabrics, and jewellery. It was in the 1970s that Aboriginal art began to gain international recognition as one of the most exciting art forms.
Among the trailblazers were the Western Desert artists of Papunya Tula – they were given acrylic paints and canvas in 1971. You’ll see a great variety of Aboriginal art styles in Sydney’s galleries and museums. The Edge of the Trees sculpture and soundscape is on the Museum of Sydney’s forecourt.
You can marvel, too, at Aboriginal artists’ works illuminated on one of the Sydney Opera House’s iconic sails. At sunset and 7pm daily, Badu Gili is a spectacular seven-minute projection on an eastern-side sail. Badu Gili means ‘water light’ in the local Gadigal Aboriginal people’s language.