Yalmay Marika (Australian, Rirratjingu clan). Wagilag Dhawu (Wagilag Ceremony Story), 1996. Natural ochres on bark, 102 1/2 x 29 1/2". Recent gift to the University by John W. Kluge

Painted Places


Monumental Bark Paintings from Australia


March 14 - June 7, 1998
Entrance Gallery, first floor

Painted Places features works by Australian aboriginal artists from North East Arnhem Land, in the far north of the country. These works, a recent gift to the University from the John W.Kluge collection, depict the stories and designs representing clan associations with areas of land and ancestral beings who populated the landscape in the "Dreaming" or creation era. The successive layers of detailing, using natural ochres painted on eucalyptus bark, evoke layers of knowledge, from common to esoteric, about the Dreaming ancestors. This knowledge, combined with the right to reproduce images of the ancestors, serves as a type of title or deed to clan-owned lands.

These barks were part of a major commission by John W. Kluge completed in 1996. They were exhibited in Darwin at the 13th National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Art Award (NATSIAA) exhibition, where one received the first place award in the bark division. Another bark from this group was recently included in the exhibition, Paintings of the Wagilag Sisters Story 1937-1997, at the National Gallery of Australia.


Exhibition Lecture
The People Who Painted Places: Aboriginal Artists of North East Arnhem Land
by Margo Smith Boles, curator of Australian Aboriginal Art, Morven
Tuesday, March 17, 5:30 pm, Campbell Hall, 153, reception follows in the Museum

Children's Program
Every Picture Tells a Story
Sunday, March 29, 1 pm, in the Museum

In aboriginal bark painting, ancestral creatures like the shark and the crocodile helped create the landscape in the era of the Dreaming. These stories and more will be explored, then children will tell their own stories using the methods of the bark painters. Led by Margo Smith Boles for second through fifth graders. Registration is limited. Please call to reserve a space, 804-924-7458.