Sunday, September 4, 2011

Australian Aboriginal Artist Greg Weatherby

I came across this review of Christian "related" art in Australia and thought I would pass it on, especially regarding Aboriginal artist Greg Weatherby.  I put related in quotes above because as the author notes, it's not entirely clear what the belief systems of the artists actually are.  I've come across information on a handful of Aboriginal Christian/Christian-related artists lately, but didn't want to post all them in a row.  So, since I am in the process of traveling as I write this post, I will go ahead and publish this one.

Weatherby states that “my work covers mimi spirits, the Dreamtime, Christian themes of the birth, crucifixion and Last Supper,” he said. “But most of the art is about saving the environment, about looking after the environment and not screwing it up.”  He is inspired by dreams and visions, and his art first began in part as an attempt to process his "many years in boys homes after traumatic family break-down."  Many of his images aren't specifically Christian in theme, but rather are drawn from "Indigenous animal stories, religious themes and incarnations of Mimi spirits" (you can see some of these themes here and here).  Weatherby's Aboriginal heritage is Walbanga from the far south coast of New South Wales, and his tribal totem is the shark.

In Weatherby's "Dreamtime Birth," we see the nativity.  I find it interesting that among other things, this image portrays "the Great Ancestor’s omnipresent hands... presenting the divine gift to Aboriginal Spirit parents near legendary Uluru.”  Although my depth of knowledge of this artist and aboriginal art in general is shallow, I wonder if the description of Mary and Joseph as "Aboriginal Spirit parents" represents an attempt to place the incarnation into the framework of the Aboriginal Dreamtime, the "everywhen" time of "formative creation and perpetual creating... an embodiment of Creation, which gives meaning to everything" (Wikipedia).  

In "The Last Supper" (see image at beginning of post), Weatherby has again depicted “tall and elegant Mimi spirits [who] take the places of Jesus and his disciples at the most famous meal in religious history. Under vast Dreamtime skies this story is dramatically re-interpreted by an artistic culture much, much older."  And, again I wonder if this is done to compare these events in importance to the dreamtime, or to outright reinterpret them as such, on equal ground with other dreamtime stories.  Or do the biblical stories reinterpret the dreamtime myths as distant but God-given echoes of his work in our world?

And lastly is "Crucifixion."  Weatherby poignantly reminds us that "the Aboriginal and Christian stories are linked because Aboriginal peoples were also crucified on their journeys. Yet in the heavenly blue Dreamtime, destiny patiently waits."  I'm not sure what the pole-like structures represent, but would love to know.  

1 comment:

  1. I am really very influenced by Australian artists. I love all these beautiful pictures displayed here painted by those artists. These seem really meaningful & valuable for Christians. Wonderful job!
    Aboriginal Art