original Aboriginal dream art

Mike LeCompte CPF

MGF, Master Grumble Framer
Jul 20, 2005
Knoxville TN
Lady came in some days back with some canvases--or canvi--for us to stretch. So did the job.

Comes in today and I asked if she were going to frame them She sez "no, these are original Aboriginal dream art and you never frame dream art"

Artist's name is I believe Maureen Hudson with a middle name I can't begin to spell much less pronounce but apparently she hangs in National gallery in DC and elsewhere. Writing says it's from Mt Allen Station, (Yualumu) group Walpiri--does that mean the aboriginal group??? Dunno tht either

So question is: anyone else ever here of not framing dream art? Apparently it's suppose to rob the spirit of the piece.

Just curious
What... like the stretcher bars are okay then?

Sounds like anti-framing propaganda to me.

edie the
Hi Mike,
My first response was BULLSH**.

Walpiri is a language group. Commonly known by the uninitiated as a tribe. Walpiri is one of the western desert language groups. The western desert language groups are( amongst others) Pitjantjatjara, Yanjantjatjara, Walpiri, Luritja, Pintupi, and to a lesser extent Arrente. It’s a bit of a long drawn out story, but in the 1950 and 60’s in Australia there was a push to force aboriginal people onto missions and off the cattlestations that they lived. One of these missions was Yuendamu. (About the same area as Yualumu). In 1971 a young school teacher by the name of Geoff Bardon, noticed some of the ladies painting in the sand. These painting in the sand were a way of the local people to pass on the stories of the creators, the religion, and life to the children, and uninitiated, in a society with no written language. These painting were generally painted in dot form, and were rubbed out soon afterwards so the children etc, would memorizes, the stories and sand paintings.

Geoff Bardon influenced the painters to do them on a more stable medium, and introduced them to the wider white community. These stories were often incorrectly referred to by the white community as “dreamtime”. A phrase that was started by a archeologist (His name escapes me at this stage), who in his ignorant judo-christian background thought these stories were dreamed by aboriginal people. This dreamtime has been a rough and often misinterpreted translation of what is called in Pitjantjartjara, as Tjukurpa and in Aranda as Altyerre. I don’t know what the word is in Walpiri as I do not speak that language. Altyerre (dreamtime) is more a combination of a way of life and the explanation on how and why to live it.

So when your customer says that it is “dream art” I think there may be some confusion, and once again a clash of translation and cultural understanding. It is art describing and depicting the ancestoral stories and the life of the people. It has nothing at all to do with dreaming.

The main reason that dot art is not framed is because it is very difficult to create a design, that does not enclose the art and make it looked cramped. The second reason is because the people of the western desert are people that live in a first world country in third world conditions and poverty. Framing is not an option for the people, and those that buy it (the dealers etc) are not interested in creating a frame that is difficult to sell. Dot Art often looks quite good unframed( Oh did I say that
), and also makes it look more primeval, especially from a person who is looking for that Neolithic feel. A frame may ruin that feel.

FYI her middle name is probably her skin name. A name which all western desert aboriginal people are given at birth. The name relates to her relationship to her mother and father’s skin name. When their name is used for a white audience, many central Australian aborigines place this in their name as a way of preserving their aboriginality.

As if we don’t have enough myths, misunderatandings and misinterpretations, without creating more just to sell some art. No offence Mike. I'll stop before it gets me started.

David Tjapaltjarri Curby
Cool middle name, Dave. Looks harder to pronounce than my middle name. ;)
OzDave: many thanks. And absolutely no offense at all. You've increased my understanding of this matter immensely.

Now that you've mentioned this, I looked at the other piece and it is from group Pintupi--there were two if I didn't mention that.

So, thanks again for the history. Deeply appreciated