Making art and making culture in far western New South Wales

Lorraine Gibson*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

4 Citations (Scopus)


This contribution is based on my ethnographic fieldwork. It concerns the intertwining aspects of the two concepts of art and culture and shows how Aboriginal people in Wilcannia in far western New South Wales draw on these concepts to assert and create a distinctive cultural identity for themselves. Focusing largely on the work of one particular artist, I demonstrate the ways in which culture (as this is considered) is affectively experienced and articulated as something that one 'comes into contact with' through the practice of art-making. I discuss the social and cultural role that art-making, and art talk play in considering, mediating and resolving issues to do with cultural subjectivity, authority and identity. I propose that, in thinking about the content of the art and in making the art, past and present matters of interest, of difficulty and of pleasure are remembered, considered, resolved and mediated. Culture (as this is considered by Wilcannia Aboriginal persons) is also made anew; it comes about through the practice of art-making and in displaying and talking about the art work. Culture as an objectified, tangible entity is moreover writ large and made visible through art in ways that are valued by artists and other community members. The intersections between Aboriginal peoples, anthropologists, museum collections and published literature, and the network of relations between, are also shown to have interesting synergies that play themselves out in the production of art and culture.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)67-77
Number of pages11
JournalAustralian Aboriginal Studies
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 2008


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