Aboriginal bark painting is an art form that has existed in Australia for hundreds of years and is still practiced by indigenous peoples in Western Australia's Kimberley region. My grade three students recently celebrated NAIDOC Week by creating aboriginal inspired paintings.
Students scrunched and creased a piece of brown paper to create a surface imitating the texture and softness of bark. They were then asked to draw an Australian animal for the focus of their design and to create line and pattern in their work inspired by images of various examples of traditional Aboriginal artwork. We discussed the innovative practices of the aboriginal peoples who used crushed rock and clay pieces, charcoal and mixtures of blood, feathers, fat and other organic material to create their paints, resulting in a variety of earthy colours. Students were asked to use a similar colour range when painting their design and were offered small paintbrushes as well as various sticks to use as painting tools.
The work was completed by gluing sticks collected from the school grounds to the edges of the painting and tying string to the top of each piece for display.