Aboriginal Dot
Who Are the Aborigines?
• A group of native Australian
• Similar to Native Americans of
the US, Aborigines inhabited
the continent of Australia
thousands of years before the
arrival of European settlers.
• Similar to the Native
Americans of the US,
Aborigines lived by hunting,
moving across land in
harmony with nature.
• Materials they used were
simple, natural, and
• In 1770, Australia was claimed by the
British. When other European settlers
arrived, the Aborigines suffered a fate
similar to that of Native Americans.
Some were killed; others died of
disease, and the rest were herded into
Aboriginal Art
• Each piece of Aboriginal Art has
a story, meaning, or function.
• The process of creation is
more important than the result
• Many designs were reproduced
as part of special ceremonies
Materials and Techniques
• Most Aboriginal Artists worked on surfaces
found in nature, such as bark, sand, rocks,
and the human body
• They used simple, rough mediums and
What Is Dreamtime?
• Aborigines believe that everything in
today’s world was created by Ancestral
Beings long ago, during a period they
call Dreamtime
• These beings moved across the earth
creating land, people, animals, and the
• The Ancestral Beings then sank back into the
earth and their spirits turned into landscape
features now regarded as sacred places
• Today, the spirit of these beings, known as
the Dreaming, live on.
• Aborigines renew their connections through
art and ritual
Dreamtime and
• A Western Artist is said to
have created a work of art;
but when an Aboriginal
creates a design, it is said to
have been found, often in a
dream or through an unusual
• Artworks are created to communicate
stories, messages, or spiritual qualities,
and therefore most imagery is
abstracted (stylized and reduced to
their most basic lines and shapes)
• Generally, animals, birds, fish, birds,
and plants are usually shown in profile
(from the side), while turtles, frogs, and
reptiles are shown from the top
Characteristic patterns
• simple organic
(curved) lines
• positive and
• negative spaces
• straight lines
• Angles
• jagged edges
• Patterns were often first created
during sacred ceremonies, the
repetition of circles, coils, curves,
dots, and colors served to transport
the viewer into a mystical state of
mind. This produced a heightened
awareness and made it easier to
feel a connection with Dreamtime
Point of View
• Many rituals required these patterns to be
drawn in the sand first so that artists could
become used to seeing their images from
above. They would then begin painting with
canvases on the ground.
• In Western art, objects or landscapes are
usually seen from the side; in aboriginal
painting, objects are seen from above
Art as Language
• Artworks were meant to serve as maps;
to diagram relationships between
people and the land.
• They record sacred journeys and
contain unique vocabulary of signs,
symbols, lines, and shapes that can be
“read” the way we might read a subway
Past and Present
• Generations of Aboriginal artists living in the
great central desert region of Australia have
been creating art for thousands of years, but
their images have long since disappeared
• Today, artists painting on modern canvases
and boards are preserving and adapting
these same unique patterns that were
developed many centuries ago
• Traditional dot painters used natural pigments
such as ochre, and crushed seeds. Today,
bright colors are more common
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