Phantasmal Papunya: telling stories about the origins of 'Aboriginal Art’

Abstract: For a long time a particular story was told about the beginnings of Western Desert Painting in Australia: how a young art teacher named Geoffrey Bardon encouraged the Aboriginal inhabitants of Papunya to translate ritual designs from their traditional ephemeral forms into the more permanent forms of acrylic paint on boards, how he found a market for the paintings and saw a great future for them, and how - after only 18 months or so - he left the settlement defeated and distraught, whilst the painting movement went on to achieve lasting glory.  Bardon was both author and hero of this tale, which, told in its entirety, bears some of the dark hallmarks of myth.  Other, more complex accounts are given now of the origins of the painting at Papunya, but the myth spun by Bardon is yet to be examined not for what it tells us about the painting, but for what it tells us about its author, and about early audiences for Aboriginal Art.

VMMA-Pitt Rivers Museum SeminarSeries Michaelmas 2018

Pitt Rivers Museum Lecture Theatre (off Robinson Close)

Fridays at 1pm (Weeks 1-8)

Convened by Gemma Angel and Marcus Banks