Home' Scoop Homes and Art : Insite 28 Autumn 2011 Contents 122 INSITE AUTUMN 2011
ISSUE rock art
Our rock art predates the pyramids – so why isn’t Australia (and the world) doing
more to preserve these pieces of cultural history? We look at what’s being done locally
ore ancient than the Egyptian
pyramids and more plentiful
than Europe’s enigmatic cave
paintings, Australia’s ancient
rock art is nevertheless the poor cousin
among the world’s prehistoric artefacts.
In Australia there are 100,000 known and
documented rock art sites, with many more
remaining unrecorded, showing intricate
designs and pictures, some dating back more
than 30,000 years. However, somehow it
doesn’t garner the same worldwide respect
as other ancient artforms around the world.
This is all the more surprising when you
consider that the European examples are much
fewer and, on the whole, less easily accessed.
Although some of our rock art is in very
remote areas, some is easily accessible in, for
instance, Kakadu National Park. And while
rock art examples stopped being created in
Europe 10,000 years ago, here they were still
being created in living memory in some areas.
So, if you decode the story behind it, you
could unlock some of the secrets of worldwide
rock art – cultural information from a time
before the written word and photographs.
Further, these images can reveal much about
a people’s history and belief systems.
However, there is good news at hand.
Our rock art is on the brink of gaining the
prominence it deserves thanks to a new West
Australian initiative – the Centre for Rock-Art
Studies at the University of Western Australia.
The centre is dedicated to integrating
research and scholarship on this artform and
has already prompted a renewed groundswell
Rock legend WORDS Gabi Mills
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