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Australian Drawings

Australian aboriginal art dates back to the advent of human civilization. The Warlpiri people, an indigenous tribe, have produced a remarkable body of drawings that are celebrated for their vigor and modern sensibility. These Australian drawings also document the tremendous change and adversity that the aboriginal people of the Northern territories have experienced over the last half century.

European drawing in Australia dates back to roughly the beginning of the 17th century, a timeframe that corresponds to the inferred age of a sketch depicting a kangaroo. Portuguese sailors, who first anchored on the continent approximately a century before the British settled there, left the drawing in an ancient prayer book, where it was later found. Early examples of drawing produced by the Commonwealth of Australia under British government tend to feature landscapes and natural history studies of the flora, fauna, and indigenous inhabitants of the island.

Artists of both native and European descent carry on the legacy of drawing in Australia today. Notable contemporary Australian artists include Sky Bivens, Vin Ryan, and Sabastian Moody.


Quick Facts

  • In 2009, the Museum of Contemporary Art Australia staged a contemporary drawing exhibition entitled "I Walk the Line: New Australian Drawings"
  • A kangaroo portrait belonging to the Portugese was dated between 1580 and 1620, suggesting that the Portuguese discovered Australia decades before the Dutch. However, the Dutch had long been credit as the first Europeans to arrive on the Australian shores
  • Contemporary aboriginal artists who have received widespread acclaim and international recognition include Reggie Sultan and Jacinta Hayes

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