Plymouth features a blend of Indigenous Australian art, science, culture and history
From the port of Plymouth, the first English traveled to Australia, many of whom were prisoners who were sent by His Majesty’s Government to the Antipodes in a pioneering transfer of the prison service. Now the journey has been reversed and with fewer fiery figures, as the Box Museum in the coastal town of Devon staged the largest exhibition of Australian Aboriginal art to ever show outside of Oceania (Songs: Follow the Seven Sistersfrom October 21 to February 27).
It is an ambitious seven-year project to restore, rebuild and preserve the song lines
With three hundred paintings, photographs, ceramics, sculptures and objects from a hundred different artists, as well as dance, film and multimedia performances, the exhibition is an introduction to the art of Australian Aboriginal communities and a ambitious seven-year project to restore, rebuild and preserve Songs, a type of story or epics like Icelandic that has been passed down orally from generation to generation.
The initiative was led by Margo Neal, a leading scholar in Aboriginal culture and art and head of this department at the National Museum of Australian History in Canberra. To build up the archive of tribal knowledge that is at the heart of the show, he personally interviewed many leaders from different communities and traveled the country to collect material leaving Australia for the first time, and after Plymouth he would be possible to admire at the new Humboldt Museum in Berlin and on the Quai Branly in Paris.
The verses of Australian Aboriginal songs or epics, some 60,000 years old, form a complex political, historical, social, geographic and spiritual web, combining narratives with which the elderly pass their knowledge on to children and grandchildren. , and at the same time they are a map to understand the way of life of the indigenous peoples of the country, their moral codes and the context in which important laws and events were promulgated. It has been compared to Genesis, The Iliad, and The Odyssey, and was first learned by the West through travel writer Bruce Chatwin.
The exhibit, in the restored box in Plymouth, shows the connection between cosmology, culture and the land that is part of Aboriginal culture through a fascinating journey through three Australian states and half a million square kilometers, in using the power of contemporary art to recover and recreate traditional stories. It is art, science, history and all three in one at the same time.