For many years, I've been intending to visit the National Gallery to view its collections, rather than being drawn by the frequent blockbusters. At last I managed to do just that. I began by walking around the Aboriginal Memorial, 200 hollow log ceremonial coffins, one for each year of white invasion, arranged on a winding path representing the Glyde River in the Northern Territory. The coffins are “a forest of souls” and a “war memorial for all those Aboriginal people who died defending their country.” Forty-three artists – bark painters, sculptors and weavers – were involved in creating the coffins.
Upstairs, I was face to face with a huge sculptured representation of a Mandjabu, a traditional fish trap from the Maningrida Aboriginal community in the Northern Territory, which translates woven fibre into cast aluminium. Then the galleries opened before me: objects and paintings in the rich earth colours of the heart of Australia, many created by Unknown and a few communally.
If you want to look at Aboriginal art more deeply than I presume to do here, you can begin by browsing the National Gallery of Australia's website.