Art’s often said to be the ultimate form of self expression. People find meaning in simple objects and markings. Although it is often ridiculed, I believe that art can connect the past and the present. It can also act as a reminder of human triumphs and failings.
While in Austrailia I was able to view some Aboriginal etchings. These particular carvings were preserved in the Kuringai National Park, and although not complex in nature, acted as both tourist attraction and educational tool. The basic etchings gave an indication of the simple lives lead by the native Australians, but their importance is all too obvious.
There are well-documented atrocities carried out against the Aborignals. One example would be ‘The Myall Creek Massacre’ http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Myall_Creek_massacre (reader discretion advised). A more recent example would be 40 years ago when children were being stolen from tribes in an effort to ‘save’ them. Whole tribes and cultures were wiped out, with only their art left to represent their existence.
This art is important – both to represent a once flourishing race, and as a sign of improving relations. The appreciation and preservation of their culture, paired with the relinquishing of stolen land, shows a changing attitude and warming of relations between the Aboriginals and the Settlers. Even so, it is a long way from creating a peaceful society.
All art has meaning. The art of the Aboriginals is surrounded in mystery and sadness. It feels like a small fragment of a much larger, tragically lost story, and it is for this reason that I believe it is crucial that art be retained and preserved.