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Article

Jim Barr and Mary Barr

(b Christchurch, July 12, 1939; d Waitangi, Feb 7, 1990).

New Zealand painter. After graduating in sculpture from the University of Canterbury in 1961, he began to paint seriously. He was involved professionally in archaeology, including recording early Maori rock drawings. In 1963 he travelled to Europe, returning to Christchurch in 1967. He extended his use of photographic sources for his work from the Old Masters to medical and often grotesque images, as in No! (Christchurch, NZ, McDougall A. G.). He moved to Auckland in 1973 and from then Polynesian culture and imagery dominated his work. From these sources he built up his distinctive symbolic vocabulary, for example in Too Late (1986; Rotorua, A. G.). In 1994 Fomison’s work toured throughout New Zealand in the exhibition Fomison: What Shall We Tell Them?

Tony Fomison: A Survey of his Paintings and Drawings from 1961 to 1979 (exh. cat. by J. Barr, Lower Hutt, NZ, Dowse A. G., 1979) L. Strongman...

Article

Darrell Lewis

Site of Aboriginal culture at Delamere Station, c. 380 km south of Darwin, Northern Territory, Australia. It consists of several galleries of paintings and engravings in rock shelters around and near the base of a monolithic sandstone outcrop. Painted motifs include birds, echidnas, kangaroos, a dingo, a Rainbow snake, lizards, a turtle, human figures, hafted stone axes and a European with firearms and cattle. Most of the paintings are silhouettes, either monochrome or outlined with a contrasting colour. Some have additional elaboration, such as internal dividing lines or simple X-ray features. The paintings are probably less than 1000 years old, since the Delamere sandstone is relatively soft. The engravings are abraded, most being randomly orientated, parallel grooves, with some bird and animal tracks and circular pits. These abraded motifs are also unlikely to be very old.

The name derives from the huge and highly elaborate painted figures of the two Lightning Brothers, which dominate the major gallery. According to Aboriginal mythology, the Lightning Brothers originated in the ...

Article

Darrell Lewis

Site of Aboriginal culture, c. 100 km north-east of Broken Hill, in the arid country of western New South Wales, south-east Australia. It is known for its complex of pecked rock engravings; these are concentrated on an area of sloping sandstone pavements (c. 100×30 m), although others are more dispersed. Some are found along an ephemeral creek that leads to the base of the sandstone outcrop where there are several rock holes that provided the Aborigines with a permanent water-supply. The rock holes were discovered by Europeans in the mid-19th century and were visited by several exploring expeditions in the 1860s. Although the engravings are within sight of the water-holes, which were of great importance to European settlers and travellers in the region, they were not documented until the 1920s. The area containing the engravings and other Aboriginal relics was declared a reserve in 1927. It was subsequently incorporated into a larger National Park, and in ...

Article

Andrée Rosenfeld

Complex of Aboriginal sites on the north-west coast of Tasmania, Australia. It has the best-known and largest collection of Aboriginal petroglyphs in Tasmania, with six individual sites where engravings (as they are also known) have been carved on rocky outcrops at, or just above, the high-water level and close to a freshwater creek. Since the petroglyphs are exposed to windblown beach sands, salt spray and the surf of very high tides and are associated with shell-midden deposits characteristic of the more recent prehistory of Tasmania (i.e. not earlier than c. 1000 bc), they are probably of relatively recent origin. Shifting beach and dune sands partially bury the rocks, and their exposure and visibility can vary significantly. The Mt Cameron West engravings were almost certainly entirely covered in the early 19th century when George Augustus travelled in the region. In the early 1930s they were partially exposed and the Tasmanian antiquarian ...

Article

Andrée Rosenfeld

Site of Aboriginal activity, c. 50 km north-west of Cobar, western New South Wales, south-east Australia. The Cobar Plain is a broad, semi-arid plain south of the Darling River. Intermittent rains have eroded the sandstone to produce short, narrow valleys with low cliffs and rock shelters. Permanent water-holes in the vicinity were important centres for Aboriginal activity with concentrations of campsites and painted rock shelters. Eight of the shelters clustered around Mt Grenfell have paintings; two of the largest also have evidence of habitation.

Most of the figures, painted in red, yellow or white, are fairly small (h. 100–300 mm). The paint was not always evenly ground and was generally applied thickly either with a finger or with a blunt object such as a frayed stick brush, but some paintings in red have much finer lines, possibly requiring the use of a hair brush. Human figures predominate, but a range of animal motifs also occurs, mainly macropods and emu, with dingo, fish and others more difficult to identify. The images are in plain silhouette with little detail, and they appear to have been sketched in rapidly. Most of the human figures are shown frontally, often in rows or groups with bent legs and arms, as if jumping or dancing. The latter interpretation is strengthened by the occasional addition of seated figures with arms raised in front as if clapping or holding clapsticks. Despite the high degree of schematization, varying limb positions and body angles suggest an extensive range of postures, with the occasional use of profiles to provide a greater variety. The paintings are lively and dynamic, although few activities can be identified precisely. Apart from a probable predominance of dance, some associated human and animal figures suggest hunting scenes, but animals, both isolated and in groups, are not often clearly related to the humans. A pair of red macropods (one in a very upright position), facing each other and holding clapsticks, clearly indicates that not all the animal images are to be read literally as potential prey. There are also sequences of tracks, complex designs resembling mazes that have no obvious iconic origin, hand stencils and some object stencils....

Article

Darrell Lewis

Aboriginal site in the Laura region of Cape York Peninsula, northern Queensland, Australia. The name refers to a group of seven rock shelters located near the head of a small gorge on an elevated sandstone plateau. These contain paintings and engravings that are typical of so-called Laura rock art (see Aboriginal Australia §II 2.). ‘Quinkan’ is an Aboriginal term for the malevolent spirit beings that are said to inhabit the bush in south-east Cape York. These spirit beings are often painted, usually with distorted body, limbs, head or genitals, in the region’s rock shelters. Other painted motifs in the Quinkan Galleries include male and female human figures, echidnas, fish, snakes, emu, emu eggs, ibis, dingo and stingray, as well as a palm tree, flying fox, crocodile, turtle, dilly bag and stencilled images of hands and boomerangs.

Most of the paintings in the Quinkan Galleries are full silhouettes in red, white or yellow, with outlines and infill patterns of grid lines, dashes or dots in a contrasting colour. Individual motifs may be as small as 200 mm, but many figures approximate or even exceed life-size. Human figures and spirit beings are usually depicted frontally, with large animals and birds shown in side view; low animals such as echidnas and crocodiles are shown from above. In the Quinkan sites and in many other galleries of the Laura area paintings are heavily superimposed; large, multicoloured painted surfaces with varied subject-matter create a visually striking effect. Engraved motifs in the Quinkan Galleries include pecked-out bird tracks and mazes of conjoined meandering grooves, circles and radiating lines, as well as outlines of circles and a human figure. Where they are found superimposed, most of the engraved motifs underlie paintings, although two circles appear to cut into pigments, indicating that the practice of engraving continued into fairly recent times. Most of the engravings appear to belong to the early phase of the Laura rock-engraving sequence: similar engravings at another Laura cave site, the ...

Article

Andrée Rosenfeld

[Alalya]

Aboriginal site in the Cleland Hills, c. 300 km west of Alice Springs, Northern Territory, central Australia. It is one of the larger and more permanent water-holes in the area, set in a gorge cut through the sandstone, and has been a significant resource for Aboriginal people. Shelters near by contain evidence of camping and many also have rock paintings, but most attention has been drawn to the petroglyphs on the cliff faces in the gorge (Edwards). They are patinated and some are worn and partly frittered away, suggesting that they are of some antiquity. The most striking motifs are face-like designs deeply pecked out in the fairly soft sandstone. The face motifs vary in detail, but all are characterized by two large circles or sets of concentric circles with a central pit, which constitute the eyes. The narrow ridge between the eyes is sometimes lengthened downwards by a groove creating the impression of a nose. Some have a heart-shaped outline with pointed ‘chin’; on others the ‘chin’ is rounded and contains a parallel arc suggesting a smiling mouth. Some of the faces are devoid of contour lines and are merely composed of two concentric circles that create a wide-eyed impression and two short arcs suggesting a mouth and chin. These motifs comprise only about 4% of the total petroglyph complement. Most of the motifs employed are bird and some animal tracks, circles, arcs, pits and amorphous designs; this range of motifs has been defined by Maynard as the Panaramittee style (...

Article

Andrée Rosenfeld

Aboriginal site c. 500 km north-west of Brisbane, on Mt Moffat station in the Carnarvon Range of Queensland, central Australia. It is the site of a rock shelter in the form of a wide amphitheatre with a recessed rock surface at its base, on which is found an extensive collection of stencilled rock paintings. A shallow cave at one end of the overhang also contains some hand-stencilled designs. Unlike many rock shelters in the Central Highlands of Queensland, there is no evidence at The Tombs that the shelter was ever used for burials; instead the paintings are apparently associated with habitation debris. Excavations by Mulvaney and Joyce in 1960 produced slight evidence that the site was used until c. 5000 bc and then abandoned, as were several others in the area. The Tombs was reoccupied no earlier than the 1st millennium ad and it is unlikely that the art is earlier than this, owing to the friable nature of the rock surface....

Article

Ubirr  

Darrell Lewis

[Obiri Rock]

Complex of at least 36 Aboriginal sites in the Kakadu National Park, Northern Territory, Australia, formerly known by the anglicized form of its name. The entire area near the East Alligator River Crossing in Western Arnhem Land is subject to seasonal monsoonal flooding, but there are numerous sandstone outcrops and monoliths containing rock shelters above the maximum flood level. The rock paintings found in these shelters include representative examples from the earliest styles to the most recent (see Aboriginal Australia §II 2., (ii), (b)). The few examples of the earliest Dynamic-style figures to have been found are located in well-protected crevices. They are believed to be at least 9000 years old and depict in red ochre small human beings wearing large headdresses, carrying boomerangs and using hand-thrown spears. Small, predominantly red, human figures from the subsequent period are more common throughout the complex; these wear headdresses and have distinctive S-shaped bodies. Several paintings depict the thylacine or Tasmanian wolf, and these are likely to date to a minimum of 3000 years ago when the wolf is believed to have become extinct on the Australian mainland. Other figures from more recent periods are painted in a range of colours, including red, yellow, white and black. They are no longer depicted wearing large headdresses, while spear-throwers and an increasing variety of spear types are carried instead of boomerangs....