The Collection consists of unique historical cultural materials from Northern Australia that document relationships between Yolngu people and their land in the period immediately before the large-scale changes of the 1960s and 1970s totally transformed north-eastern Arnhem Land. They were made at the behest of anthropologist Ronald M Berndt, who was concerned that the large collection of bark paintings he had amassed would not survive the trip to Darwin. The crayon drawings on brown butcher's paper, the first executed in this medium by artists who normally painted on stringybark, also have extraordinary aesthetic significance, and resonate with religious belief and meaning, demonstrating the complexity and structure of Yolngu spiritual beliefs. Hundreds of pages of dictated documentation, linked by penciled key numbers on the works themselves, are an unparalleled social and cultural resource for the study of Indigenous Australia.
Ronald M. Berndt Collection of Crayon Drawings on Brown Paper from Yirrkala, Northern Territory
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