Australia Arts


The figurative manifestations of the nomadic peoples of Australia, hunters and gatherers, are closely connected, such as music and dance, to religious beliefs and rites and are intended to propitiate hunting, rain, to favor the protection of benign spirits., or to remember mythical ancestors. Little developed is the sculpture (figures in stone, wood or clay depicting the spirits of the dead), while the engraving is widely used to decorate ritual or common objects, weapons, etc., with geometric patterns and symbols whose meaning is understandable only to initiates. Also worth mentioning are the petroglyphs (engravings on boulders or rock walls), generally with naturalistic representations of animals. But the most singular and important art is painting, especially rock and bark painting. Particular manifestations are the drawings made on sand during religious ceremonies, with geometric motifs, and the dendroglyphs (engravings on barked trees). Examples of rock painting can be found all over Australia, but especially in the Arnhem Land, in the district of Kimberley and in the central and northwestern areas. Although some examples may be very ancient, it is not possible to trace a chronology, due to the custom of periodically repainting the paintings for ritual purposes and also because the continuity of the tradition does not allow stylistic distinctions between recent and older works. The color effects are based on a few fundamental tones (white, black, red and yellow ocher), while the theme is very varied: negative handprints, human and animal figures, ritual scenes, mythical figures (such as the Wongina, large figures of mythical beings, believed by the indigenous creators of the world, or the Mimes, anthropomorphic spirits depicted in lively movement, in monochrome). The style is also varied: naturalistic, more or less stylized, or purely geometric. Singular is the “X-ray style”, which also reveals the internal organs of the animal represented.


From the English colonization (end of the XVIII century) to the whole century. XIX art and architecture in Australia are strictly dependent on British models; in the sec. XX, on the other hand, are updated on European and North American artistic currents. Between 1810 and 1850 the architectural style is Georgian neoclassical in the colonial version. Numerous cities are founded with mostly checkerboard master plans, broad parallel streets, rectangular blocks of buildings with gardens, strips of parkland around the center, outer residential districts (Sydney, already in 1788; Hobart, 1804; Brisbane, 1824; Perth, 1829; Melbourne, 1837; Adelaide, 1837). The best examples of such architecture are found in Sydney, where F. Greenway works, a deportee who later became the official architect of Governor Macquarie and the author of public and religious buildings. The private architecture, particularly valuable for its sobriety and elegance, is expressed above all in two-storey houses, very large, with sloping and characteristic verandas. The painting of the time reflects the neoclassical and romantic trends European. The English watercolorists Conrad Martens and John Glove worked in Australia. From the middle of the century. XIX the Australian cities, following immigration, developed extraordinarily and took on the typically Victorian aspect that distinguishes them. Especially in the field of public architecture eclecticism (neo-Gothic, neo-baroque, neo-Renaissance) is adopted with a variety of types and a diffusion superior to Europe itself. Private architecture, on the other hand, remains linked to the Georgian style until the last decade of the century. Characteristic of this period are the wrought iron railings with classical motifs, which, especially in Melbourne, decorate the verandas of the houses. In painting,(ST Gill), Pre – Raphaelite style, Impressionism (Tom Roberts).


Remained isolated or allowed to perish the forms of spectacle typical of Aboriginal culture, as a country located in Oceania listed on thereligionfaqs, Australia has been and has remained theatrically a sort of colony, once only London, then, more recently, also New York. The earliest known performance is a Dude’s Stratagem staged in Sydney in 1789 by a group of convicts. The first regularly operating theater, the Sydney Royal, opened in 1833 on the initiative of Barnett Levey; other rooms followed in the major cities. Modest local professional actors performed there, alternating more and more frequently by the great stars of the international scene (not only Anglo-Saxons but also, for example, the Italian A. Ristori) in rapid and profitable tours.The repertoires were also totally, or nearly so, imported, with attempts at more or less experimental scenes, which dealt with the texts of the most advanced European dramaturgy. Only at the end of the 1960s did Australian theater become truly successful, thanks above all to the initiatives of three groups – the La Mama Theater in Melbourne, the Jane Street and the Nimrod in Sydney – united by a strong political commitment and from the anxiety of finding, even through the theater, a national identity. The theaters built in the major cities contributed (often with two halls, a larger one for the most productive shows, a smaller one for those of an experimental nature); financial aid provided by the government; the establishment of permanent companies in each of the six states.L. Nowra and S. Sewell, b. 1953) and new directors, including J. Sharman (b.1945), director of The Rocky Horror Picture Show (1975), and G. Ogilve (b.1931). And intense activity has also taken place in sectors such as children’s theater, feminist theater and theater that recovers and updates the traditions of the Aborigines. There are also numerous research companies, based in major cities and in particular in Sydney. Finally, two festivals are noteworthy, that of Perth (annual) and that of Adelaide (biennial), which present both national groups and shows imported from Europe and the United States.

Australia Arts

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