We all know that Aboriginal Australians are the oldest known surviving culture in the world, and their art has followed them and evolved through the ages. It is important to understand the origin and cultural significance of art to Aboriginal Australians. It is not simply about painting pretty pictures, but sharing stories across generations and other Aboriginal groups. Click the photos on the left to discover the story of Aboriginal art, and the photo on the right to find out facts about Aboriginal art.
The rich culture of Indigenous Australians encompasses over 200 different languages. Message sticks are between 10 and 30cm, making them easy to carry and were painted or carved to transfer information and messages. The symbols were also a way to prove to the receiver that the person bearing the message stick was genuine. The sticks also held unique markings to a particular group so that it could be identified by other groups and translators when it was passed from one tribe to another.
Source: Ancient Origins. Click the picture below to be taken to the site.
The 5 Lands Walk message stick, created by Gavi Duncan
More Information: Click on the picture below to take you to the Queensland Museum Network Blog
Creating Our Own
We will be creating out own message 'sticks' using white card, oil pastels, and etching. One message stick will convey a value students feel pulled towards, while the other will display a complementary pattern. The example below has the value 'family', with the accompanying symbols representing a family sitting around a campfire as they travel between two sites.
Exploring Indigenous Symbols
Aboriginal Ochre Painting Colour Palettes
Click on the image below for some colour inspiration. We are looking to use earthy tones for our message sticks.
Step 1: Planning
In class we discussed the use of symbols and how they can be used to represent different stories depending on how they are used. Students also brainstormed values that are important to them, and how to convey this value through the use of Aboriginal symbols. Scroll up to find links to some Aboriginal symbols. See the link above for colour inspiration. We will be using 2 different earth-toned colours.
- Our medium will be oil pastels on white card.
Step 2: Colour the Base
Using your first colour, take the paper off the oil pastel. Using the length (the long side) of the oil pastel, cover the white card completely.
Step 3: Add the Second Colour
Take the paper off your second colour. Using the length (the long side) of the oil pastel, go over the first colour in the OPPOSITE direction. Try to cover the first colour as much as possible.
Step 4: Etch the Outline of the Message Sticks
Using a skewer or toothpick, etch 2 large ovals on your paper. Try to make them the same size.
Step 5: Etch the Symbols and Your Chosen Value
Do not start this step until you have a plan for what value and symbols you will be using. Etch your chosen value into one oval, and your symbols representing that value in the other.
Step 6: Step Back and Admire Your Work!
The Message Stick Documentary
Click either picture to view the story about how two people travelled Australia and now share the stories of Indigenous Australians around the world.