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A Superb Old Australian Aboriginal Bark Painting From Groote Island in the Northern Territory

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Collection No. T-5539
Size 50cm x 28cm
The Art of Compassion The Todd Barlin Collection
Asian Buddhist Art
Asian & Japan Scholars Art

A Superb Old Bark Painting depicting Totemic Birds at a Sacred Waterhole Groote Eyland Northern Territory Collected in 1968 (Artist Unrecorded in 1968)

Groote Eylandt, in Anindilyakwa Country off the coast of northeast Arnhem Land, has been a center of bark painting since the 1920s. The heavy black background and dashed lines of red, white, and yellow ochres that comprise this painting are characteristic of Anindilyakwa bark paintings from the middle of the twentieth century. The black pigment comes from the manganese that has been mined on Groote Eylandt for decades.

This painting is in near-perfect condition, the family who owned had it packed away in a clean dry box for 55 Years, and the colour is as bright as the day it was painted due to their conservation of the painting never being kept in sunlight

Groote Islanders painted and decorated the inside walls of their bark huts. Anthropologist Norman Tindale in 1921-1922 made the first collections of bark paintings. This collection is now in the collection of the South Australian Museum. Frederick Rose made another large collection in 1938, with the help of Fred Gray. Fred Gray encouraged local Groote Islanders to paint barks as a means of financial independence. Charles Mountford collected his work in 1948 during the American Australian Scientific Expedition. In the 1950s, the Rev. L.M. Howell commissioned eight sets of narrative paintings from Thomas Nanjiwarra. Later, Helen Groger-Wurm collected Nandjiwarra’s barks and these became the National. Gallery of Australia’s first major acquisition of Aboriginal art in 1972.

In the 1960s and 70s, this distinctive and celebrated style reached a peak. It ceased with the advent of manganese mining operations which brought a disruptive influence to the island.

 Provenance: The Todd Barlin Collection of New Guinea Oceanic and Australian Aboriginal Art 

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