Hand-Painted Noongar Art
Artist: Christine Winmar
Region: Perth, WA
Size: 40 x 30 cm
Christine Winmar is a Noongar woman, born in Midland, Western Australia in 1965. Her skin name is ‘Allawah’, an Aboriginal word meaning "Stay here". Christine was taught to paint by her father, a renowned artist and didgeridoo craftsman. He taught her many aspects and techniques of Noongar art which are reflected in her work today. Christine then began experimenting with different styles and techniques with the support of her family and friends.
Christine has also spent a few years in the Kimberley, where she further developed her skills by adopting the techniques utilized by aboriginals in the Northern Territory.
By 1997 Christine was selling her works through an Aboriginal art gallery in Perth. Her first joint exhibition followed shortly, when in 2005 she and fellow artists Mingi May Barnes, Geoff Lindsey, and Tjinanginy exhibited in Perth and Cottesloe.
In 2009 Christine exhibited her work with various other artists in Perth and San Francisco, in the “Colours of Australia” exhibition.
Christine uses media such as canvas, pottery, wood, and glass. Bright and colorful patterns made using dots are a common aspect of her work.
The meanings behind her artworks
For many Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples, fishing is as natural and as necessary as breathing. It forms part of the deep cultural and spiritual connection many communities have with their waters and marine resources.
It also plays a role in ceremonial traditions, creating important ties between families and individuals and embodying their symbolic ties to the environment. The practice of catching fish affirms their worldviews and puts them into action in nature.
Turtle artworks are common from Aboriginal artists from the northern areas of Australia. Turtles are a favoured food source for Indigenous communities and therefore appear as totems and in Dreamtime stories and Creation myths. Indigenous people respect the food resources that sustain them and they celebrate the turtle in rituals that aim to increase the bounty of the species.
Turtles are found in freshwater lakes and billabongs as well as the large saltwater turtles. The main regions where paintings that feature turtles are produced include Maningrida, Ramingining, and Ngukurr in Arnhemland, Tiwi Islands and Daly River in Northern Territory, Torres Strait Islands and on Cape York Peninsula in Queensland, and Mowanjum and Broome in the Kimberley.
When turtles are shown with fine lines or cross-hatching drawn over their shells, this shows the traditional marks used by Arnhemland artists. These marks are called rarrk and are used to indicate totems and family designs that link specific animals to the families through Dreamtime law. Often the hunting of animals is managed and controlled by social laws that reflect the links between families and totems.
In Aboriginal culture, dolphins are commonly associated with the human spirit. They are also used to symbolize the importance of a balanced life.
One day three children were travelling with their family on a boiling day. The day was so hot, in fact, that it drained every one of their energy, making it impossible for them to carry on. The adults settled there and warned their children to stay close by and not wander off. However, toward the end of the day, the children were nowhere to be found.
The adults began a search to find their kids, tracking their footprints. They traced them all the way to the edge of a cliff, where they abruptly ended. The children weren’t playing in the sea, and they were nowhere in sight.
After the children ran away and went exploring, they found the body of water and jumped in, believing it was a billabong. Once they dived in they realised their mistake and found themselves being dragged out to sea. They tried desperately calling for help, but they had wandered so far from their group that no one could hear them.
Just then Boomali, a sea spirit, came to the rescue. He saved the children, but he knew that they had been reckless and disobedient, so he decided to teach them a lesson and turned them into dolphins. For the rest of their lives, they could play and have fun in the sea, but they were never allowed to see their family again.
Sometimes called native companions or Australian cranes, these grey birds are beautiful dancers, famous for their elaborate performances which appear to be for both pleasure and as a part of their mating ritual. The Aboriginal people have immortalized their graceful steps through dance. In vocal birds, the females also make a trumpeting sound while dancing. They look very elegant moving across the plains; the freedom contained within their dance spreads and radiates joy and spontaneity. Get ready for a celebration if Brolga delicately steps into the arena of your life!
In a well-known Dreaming about Brolga, she was a beautiful girl obsessed with dancing. A wirrinun (shaman) wanted her for his wife but she refused, as she refused all men. Dancing was her love and nothing else distracted her. He harbored resentment until one day, seeing her dancing alone on the plain he takes his chance, changes himself into a willy-willy (small whirlwind), and sweeps her into it with the intention of abducting her. The Great Spirit intervenes, and she is transformed into Brolga as we see her today. She is still dancing.
Brolga emphasizes the ability you have to pursue creative interests and talents, and still be supported. The girl was provided for by her tribe, and allowed to practice skills, even though they were unnecessary for physical survival. Also, as a rare token of esteem, she was permitted to dance in the men’s corroborees. Brolga, perhaps the first career woman, strongly emphasizes going for your dream and expressing yourself creatively on a professional level. All it requires is a belief in the Self and an investment of time – the evidence that self-expression can work is stamped out in Brolga’s dance!
It is obvious Brolga symbolizes creativity, especially dance and self-expression. Brolga was a very good dancer, she loved it and all her energies went into it. What are you good at in your life? Brolga dances the elegant dance of creative expression and asks you to join her.
The cockatoo is a beautiful, graceful bird, with an unmistakable but somewhat mournful call. They represent change and enlightenment and herald the coming of rain. They are also believed to be the guides and guardians of the spirits of loved ones on their journey to rest amongst the Ancestors. Cockatoo has the most power, representing Spirit and a strong soul. The Bird is alert, joyous, and enthusiastic. Upon seeing one, people believe it means great changes coming into their lives. The Rose Cockatoo embodies spontaneity and bravery