Family, Ritual and Country

Family, ritual and Country are inexplicitly entwined with Indigenous Australian culture. The complexity and importance of connectedness can be seen in the art of Indigenous Australia.

The Country is alive with family—people have moved across it and have become a part of it over millennia; memory of historical events, special family endeavours and spirit machinations have helped form and imbued the land with significance. Lorraine Connelly-Northey, Naata Nungurrayi and Nici Cumpston convey the emotive family relationship they have with their Country.

Another generation of artists tutored in cultural content and artistic style and tradition by their parents has recently emerged. This new generation has built upon the inheritance of the past, and they bring with them the creativity and innovation of the twenty-first century. Maria Josette Orsto was encouraged and taught by her father, Declan Apuatimi. She is surrounded by family members who are also established artists, and they share, critique and compel each other in the pursuit of their artistic careers.

Ancient Indigenous ritual forms, which can be seen in historical colonial collections, are also recreated and reinterpreted with contemporary materials. Alick Tipoti’s larger-than-life sculptural masks dramatically communicate the rich ceremonial traditions of the Torres Strait.