How One Art Teacher Changed the Destiny of the Aboriginal People

Aboriginal Art Directory | 04.05.10

Mata H talks about the history of the Aboriginal Art and the role of Geoffrey Barden in bringing it to the world:

In the 1970s, Geoffrey Barden was a young art teacher in Australia. He taught art at a few country high schools before taking up a posting in 1971 to teach at the primary school at Papunya, a remote Aboriginal settlement. According to the New York Times,

When Mr. Bardon ... was assigned in 1970 to Papunya, a government barracks for blacks 150 miles west of the railhead of Alice Springs in central Australia, it was, he wrote later, "like a hidden place, unknown on maps, considered by officials as a problem place."
Papunya, established in 1960 as an official "assimilation" center for tribes forced from their traditional lands, was, wrote Mr. Bardon, "a community in distress, oppressed by exile, a place of emotional loss and waste."

At that point, many Aboriginal people (from over 500 tribal groups with over 200 different languages, who were previously semi-nomadic) had been herded up and brought into preconstructed towns to theoretically "mainstream" them into the white Australian way of life. Like the U.S. Native American reservation, it was a tragic, cruel and wretched idea.


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Contact Details

Gallery: Papunya Tula Artists Pty Ltd
Contact: Paul Sweeny
Telephone: +61 8 8952 4731
Address: 63 Todd Mall Alice Springs Alice Springs 0871 NT



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Gallery: Papunya Tula Artists Pty Ltd

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