The British Museum

“Indigenous Australia: enduring civilisation”, supported by BP, The British Museum, Great Russell Street, London WC1, until 2nd August 2015

Pearl shell pendant with dancing figures.  Kimberley region, Western Australia, before 1926.   Pearl shell, charcoal  © The Trustees of the British Museum.

Pearl shell pendant with dancing figures.
Kimberley region, Western Australia, before 1926.
Pearl shell, charcoal
© The Trustees of the British Museum.

This is a fascinating, if somewhat uncomfortable exhibition that looks at the indigenous peoples of Australia and the Torres Strait Islands and their relationship with the land and sea in a history that stretches back over sixty thousand years. A relationship which changes forever in 1770 when Captain Cook landed on Australia’s East Coast.

Shield believed  to have been collected  during Captain Cook's visit to Botany Bay, 1770.  Mangrove bark   © The Trustees of the British Museum

Shield believed to have been collected
during Captain Cook’s visit to Botany Bay, 1770.
Mangrove bark
© The Trustees of the British Museum

The complex story of the years from 1770 to the present is told through objects from the Museum and other notable collections such as the Pitt Rivers Museum, the Cambridge Museum of Archaeology and Anthropology and the National Museum of Australia. Some items were also specially created to reflect the fact that the culture of the many groups that make up Australia’s Indigenous population continues today.

Land rights placard frm the aboriginal Tent embassy, erected, as a site of protest, in 1972.  Paint on Masonite board,  Old Parliament House, Canberra, Australia, 1972.   National Museum of Australia

Land rights placard frm the aboriginal Tent embassy, erected, as a site of protest, in 1972.
Paint on Masonite board,
Old Parliament House, Canberra, Australia, 1972.
National Museum of Australia

It is a glimpse into both British and Australian history that should be seen and reflected on.

Britishmuseum.org

'Yumari' Uta Uta Tjangala (c. 1926–1990), Pintupi people, Papunya, Northern Territory, 1981,  Acrylic on canvas.  National Museum of Australia

‘Yumari’
Uta Uta Tjangala
(c. 1926–1990),
Pintupi people, Papunya, Northern Territory, 1981,
Acrylic on canvas.
National Museum of Australia

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