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This unique publication provides a wide-ranging and intellectually challenging reference to indigenous Australian art, covering documented archaeologically traditions, art styles of the early contact period and the nineteenth century, and the development of the remarkably diverse contemporary Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander art practices that have attracted so much attention in recent years. The Companion draws upon much original research on art and culture in remote Aboriginal communities, and on the emergence of Aboriginal art in urban institutions, markets, and exhibitions. Academics, graduates, and general readers will find concise and authoritative analysis on specific topics and regional traditions, unavailable even in specialist databases. Distinguished indigenous and non-indigenous scholars have been commissioned to write on individuals, artistic traditions, and historical shifts. The Companion addresses more fully than any previous book important regional variations and historical developments in relation to colonial occupation and white Australian society over time. The Companion’s primary emphasis is upon visual art, though survey entries on indigenous literature, theatre, and music among other areas provide a wider context. Essays, ‘boxes’ and ‘voices’ have been commissioned from well-established and emerging indigenous and non-indigenous writers. The presence of key historical figures such as Oodgeroo Noonucal and Kevin Gilbert art heard through excerpts from previously published material or the use of archival sources made available for the first time. The visual component in the Companion is not viewed as simply an adjunct to or illustration of the written text, but is seen to be vitally important to its rationale. Visuality has contributed to the growing critical acclaim and widespread popularity of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander art nationally and internationally. Therefore extensive illustrations in colour and in black and white is included to not only offer a critical understanding of objects and events but to acknowledge the key role visuality plays in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander culture. The 400 illustrations are extensively captioned and some of the entries can be read as visual storyboards, equally as important as the essays. Complementing this focus on visuality, there is additional reference material: maps, diagrams, chronologies providing a comprehensive listing of the major exhibitions of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander art, locally and oveseas and guides to further reading.
Edited by Sylvia Kleinert and Margo Neale