Visual Arts

Indigenous visual arts like non Indigenous visual arts crosses a multitude of mediums from traditional through to non- traditional, from painting to textiles, photography, weaving, 3D sculpture, photography and digital installation.
The creation of an artistic work is for Indigenous artists inseparable from culture and connection to community, country, spirit and language. For this reason it is crucial for Indigenous artists to retain ownership and control of the sale of their work in an ethical and fair way and for educators and artist collaborators to understand visual arts protocols.
“The designs, patterns and stories were taught to Indigenous Australians by the Ancestors and are reinforced and replicated through ritual, dance, song, body painting, rock engravings and paintings, and on domestic and ritual objects. Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander art is as alive today as it was thousands of years ago. As in the ancient past, the art is inseparable from everyday life.” National Gallery of Australia

Western Australian Aboriginal peak bodies, art collections and programs:

  • Art Gallery of Western Australia (AGWA).
  • AGWA education resource - Indigenous Art.
  • AGWA - Desert River Sea: Kimberley Art Then and Now project.
  • Berndt Museum -  Holds extensive collections of Australian Aboriginal art and Aboriginal cultural materials, including the Carrolup collection of Noongar children's art.
  • Revealed – Emerging Aboriginal artists from Western Australia.
  • FORM – An independent not-for-profit organisation that develops and advocates for excellence in creativity and artistic practice in Western Australia.
  • ART ON THE MOVE - Tours exhibitions with accompanying education resources.
  • Artsource - (the Artists Foundation of WA): peak body for visual artists in Western Australia.

What's On:

  • Bush Babies - Art On The Move - Senior's Centre Cockburn, April 24-June 30, 2017; Rockingham Arts Centre, April 27-June 11, 2017. This portrait exhibition inspires Noongar pride and creates a greater understanding and appreciation in the wider community of the respected Noongar Elders from the Wheatbelt region of Western Australia.


Further reading and contacts:

  • Aboriginal Art Education Resources - Japingka Aboriginal Art Gallery. Primary School Visual Art Program lesson plans include - Bush Medicine with artwork by Rosemary Petyarre, and My Family inspired by conversations with artist Sarrita King. Also available on the site, information about the Remote School Mentors Project and the visual arts project at Seton Catholic College.
  • In The Saddle - On The Wall: Education resource by Art On The Move containing artwork and information about many respected Kimberley Aboriginal artists, including Western Australian National Living Treasure Alan Griffiths.
  • National Gallery of Australia
  • Canning Stock Route Project, Ngurra Kuju Walyja – One Country One People – an intercultural and intergenerational story of community, collaboration and reconciliation.
  • We don’t need a Map – exhibition of work celebrating the lively and enduring culture of the Martu the traditional owners of a vast area of WA’s Western Desert.
  • Genevieve Grieves was the Lead Curator of the First Peoples exhibition opened 2013 at Melbourne Museum’s Bunjilka Aboriginal Cultural Centre. This keynote presentation was recorded at the Regional Arts Australia Summit: Arts & Edges, in Kalgoorlie-Boulder on Saturday, 18 October, 2014. Video Youtube.
  • Barbara Bynder - Karda Designs (In Profile)
  • Aboriginal Art Directory
  • Creative Spirits
  • Encountering Truth: The Real Life Stories of Objects from Empire's Frontier and Beyond, Kimberley Bunuba woman, June Oscar's, address in London linked to the opening of the British Museum's first major exhibition of Australian Indigenous cultural material, April 2015. Presentation via YouTube. Read about the exhibition here.
To find out more about the arts education events linked to the arts subject Visual Arts, visit our What’s On page.
Professional teachers association list.
Artist-in-Residence case studies incorporating Aboriginal student engagement in Visual Arts or Aborginal and Torres Strait Islander (ATSI) arts or cultural content include: Bayswater Primary School, East Maddington Primary School (cluster), La Grange Remote Community School, Melville Primary School, Tom Price Senior High School (cluster), Quairading District High School.
Visual or multi-media artists, galleries, arts centres etc. interested in developing programs for schools, visit Working in the School Context for tips about project planning, creating education resources and professional learning opportunities for teachers, and marketing to schools.
Invite an ATSI artist or organisation to be artists-in-residence in your school; check funding providers here.

Warning. Information in this section of the ArtsEdge website may contain the names, images or recordings of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people now deceased. The ArtsEdge Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander arts and culture in education portal may also contain links to sites that may use images and/or recordings of Aboriginal and Islander people now deceased. Artists or educators researching Indigenous content for educational purposes should use their discretion when viewing online content.

Details about artists and organisations outside the Department of Local Government, Sport and Cultural Industries do not constitute an endorsement of those artists or organisations or their programs, products or services. School communities are responsible for making their own assessment of these artists or organisations in accordance with relevant Department of Education policies, procedures and guidelines. Users should seek professional and specialised advice for their individual situations.