The conservation of Indigenous Australian bark paintings

ICOM-CC HTK 2014

HTK Bark CollectionThe Arnhem bark painting movement is an important Australian art movement. For Aboriginal artists, it supports the continuation and transference of traditional knowledge, the development of new cultural expressions, and economic opportunity. As a result of the success of this movement, there is a steady flow of bark paintings from art centres to institutions.

There are at times, however, differing perspectives regarding the fragility and care of these works. In order to bridge the gap between theoretical and practical conservation treatment approaches to Indigenous Australian bark paintings, the Harvesting Traditional Knowledge project brought together senior knowledge holders and artists in Indigenous communities with conservators to share knowledge about the production and care of bark paintings.

This paper examines the ways in which this project brought new knowledge to conservation decision making and highlighted the importance of shared knowledge to support best practice in the production and care of Australian bark paintings.

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