The Australians, the original ones, are coming

Aboriginal Australian Art has an universal theme: the Dreaming. This concept permeates Aboriginal culture, from ritual to contemporary art. The term refers to the time of creation when Aboriginal people and all of Nature came to be as they are; eternally interconnected with supernatural ancestors who impregnated the world they created with their power. Before they went back to their eternal sleep, into the ground or into rocks and trees, these ancestors made designs and ceremonies, they marked the land with symbols and signs and made Aborigines eternal guardians of it. In this manner, a mythical past has been carried forward into the present and future as a living reality.

Aborigines thus became witnesses of this Dreamtime, and only recently began to record on canvas ceremonial stories which for thousands of years had been exclusively drawn on their bodies and on the ground. It is a kind of a mosaic which maps Australia, and each artist is entrusted with some segment of it. For as much as this art may appear abstract, it always has a narrative meaning, a hidden underlying flow of songs, dances and rites which tell the stories of the journeys of their forefathers, the places where they camped, fought and loved: song lines drawn along sacred tracks handed down from generation to generation.

Aborigines are simply following in their footprints, when the earth was soft, as they call the Dreaming in the Pilbara region, one of the richest areas of memories and production of Aboriginal art. Recognising its value and importance as a cultural expression and social progress, the Shire of Roebourne has given the local aboriginal community the use of a restored building in the historical town of Cossack, which is now a booming and creative artistic laboratory. Here members of the Ngarluma and Indjibandi communities gather to paint under the guide of a coordinator who is also art teacher, link with the official institutions and committed companion. From cave to canvas, old stories develop by brush, ancient symbols carved on rocks take shape in painting, mythological animals come back to life in amazing colours, the same ones surroundings this land where aboriginal people trace their history some 30.000 years ago.

So, Aboriginal Art is not all about dots and circles: their obsessive intricacy, the maze patterns, the lyrical lines, the daring blend of colours expressing mystic spirituality or aggressive sensuality are in fact meant to deliberately dazzle the senses to inspire the power and mystery of The Dreaming.

It is not art, it is my story, an artist says, and now he will come to tell it in the forthcoming exhibition scheduled at Palagio di Parte Guelfa from Feb 24 until March 6.
It is really an ANTICA TERRA PULSANTE (the title of the exhibition) that will be on show on invitation of the Comune di Firenze, the first one ever out of the Pilbara boundaries, in the presence of the artists themselves accompanied by the Shire’s officials. Assessore Eugenio Giani is the promoter of this event of great relevance for the cultural exchanges patronised in the Agreement of Understanding between Western Australia and Tuscany.

In the spirit of friendship and cooperation between Italy and Australia, I am confident that this event will increase, to mutual cultural benefit, the spiritual bond among people of different heritage Mr Giani says Only knowledge generates understanding, appreciation and tolerance which leads to friendship and cooperation. As shire president I am glad that the efforts of the aboriginal people combined with the committed industry partners, local and state government can create positive and meaningful milestones for all, as proved by this event Mrs Danielle Nazzari adds.

And so, the Pilbara region, mostly known for its exploitable resources, especially iron ore and natural gas, will hopefully be recognised in the tourist market for its sweeping scenic grandeur, its rich cultural past and its alive and kicking present: the tide is finally beginning to turn for the estimated 5.000 Aboriginal people in the Pilbara.

Margreta Guarnieri

Free entrance to the exhibition, inauguration by invitation only
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