Art is the lifeblood of our communities, connecting us to the past, the present and the future. For centuries, our artists have handed on cultural knowledge to successive generations and, within this rich tradition, forged contemporary expressions to mark their time.
Representing artists from communities across Australia, the Art Gallery of NSW’s collection of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander art celebrates Indigenous Australia’s enduring cultural heritage and its myriad contemporary expressions. The earliest work in the collection, by Tommy McRae, dates back to the late 19th century, yet the stories, ceremonies and ancestral beings depicted in many of the works are testament to the oldest continuous culture in the world. From desert paintings created by small family groups living on remote Western Desert outstations and the bark paintings of the saltwater people of coastal communities to the new media expressions of ‘blak city culture’, contemporary artists have generated a renaissance of Indigenous visual art that has transfigured Australia’s cultural landscape.