South West WA Aboriginal Art
A selection of paintings showing the styles from this Aboriginal art region - some paintings may still be available for sale, while some may have been sold.
The south-west region of Western Australia is home to the Noongar people. Spread across a large area, fourteen different tribal groups have occupied lands between Esperance and Geraldton, taking in towns and cities, coastal areas and drier inland regions.
Noongar groups have been strongly influenced in their art by the style developed by Indigenous artists linked to the Carrolup Mission. The Carrolup School saw Aboriginal children in the 1940s interpreting a western style of landscape painting that integrated their own cultural experiences and feelings about Country. These rural landscapes were imbued with a sense of Aboriginal presence, even while the images themselves were of trees, hills, animals and birds.
The Carrolup artists work was exhibited widely during the 1950s and exhibitions were held across Australia, New Zealand, Europe and the USA. From this era Noongar artists have developed and expanded the styles and subjects of their art. Bella Kelly, born in Mt Barker in 1915, may well have been the matriarch of the Carrolup style, beginning her own painting in the 1940s at about age thirty. Other artists from the Carrolup time include Revel Cooper and Reynold Hart, who were joined by the next wave of artists from the 1980s included Lance Chadd, Shane Pickett, and Laurel Nannup, among many others. Landscape painting become infused with images of Creation stories, totemic images, personal stories of struggle and dispossession, and commentary on colonial history and modern political issues. These artists were followed another group including Julie Dowling, Chris Pease, Ben Pushman, Sandra Hill, Athol Farmer, Shane Hansen and others who carry on the tradition.
As Noongar country comprises such a widespread territory, various art groups have formed in towns and cities across the region. Towns with active arts involvement include Albany, Katanning, Narrogin, Bunbury, Geraldton and Perth. As in the wider art world Noongar artists have taken on many forms of expression including sculpture and carving, photography and digital art, printmaking, ceramics and installation art.