Acryl on linen
200 x 140 cm
This body painting carries a deep spiritual significance for Aboriginal people. They recognise the creative nature of this activity, which uses the human body itself as a living canvas for artistic expression. The use of particular designs and motifs donates social position and the relationship of the individuals to their family group and to particular ancestors, totemic animals and tracts of land.
In many situations, individuals are completely transformed, so they become the spirit ancestor they are portraying in their dance. Body painting ranges from simply smearing clay across the face to hill body patterning, The body paint is derived from blood, natural ochres, spinifex ash and emu fat. Elaborate ground constructions (sand paintings) are also made for the ceremonies. Patterns must conform to the ceremony being performed, and the women are not at liberty to adorn themselves with designs of free will.