Piercing the Ground

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Piercing the Ground

Christine Watson

Publisher:Fremantle Press

Sparked by a sense of wonderment at the intense aliveness and presence of contemporary Balgo artworks, this comprehensive account of Balgo women's art ranges from the public sand drawings which literally pierce the ground to vibrant canvas paintings presenting the actions of ancestral beings. It shows how women's public sand drawing relates to their roles as hunter-gatherers reading the traces of animals on the ground, and how women contribute through ceremony to the symbolic language of Balgo iconography. At the heart of the women's cosmology, the making of marks in the earth or on canvas replicates the action of the ancestors externalizing themselves on the surface of earth and rocks. This book makes an important contribution to the work of anthropologists such as Phyllis Kaberry, Nancy Munn, Catherine Berndt, Diane Bell, Deborah Bird Rose, and Marcia Langton on the extent and significance of Aboriginal women's ceremony and relationship to the land in the region. Liberally illustrated, it is a valuable text that delves into the spiritual and concrete relationship to land that is embodied in Aboriginal art. Balgo is recognized as one of the most dynamic centers of contemporary Aboriginal art and its paintings offer a rich entry point into the traditions of desert Aboriginal knowledge of country.

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