Aboriginal Art Museum Utrecht (AAMU)

Last weekend I visited the AAMU for the first time and I was impressed by the surprisingly interesting artworks. It might seem less interesting for the Aussies among us, who probably have seen enough of it in their lives.. However, this museum is an authority in Aboriginal art in Europe, in the city centre of Utrecht!

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Aboriginal artwork

Aboriginal art is art made by the indigenous people of Australia and in collaborations between Indigenous Australians and others. It includes works in a wide range of media including painting on leaves, wood carving, rock carving, sculpting, ceremonial clothing and sand painting. The art contains lots of religious and cultural aspects. Aboriginal art is story-telling art, with a mythological undertone relating to the dreamtime.

The dreamtime is the time of the origin of landscape and life. It is not really a story of creation, but more one of ordination  All important events in history are described in the dreamtime. Aboriginals strongly believe in ancestors, who are still present on earth. The ancestors give power to their relatives and on the place they died, there is the strongest radiation power. Landscape is fulfilling an important role in Aboriginal art; We could say that landscape is the ‘bible of the aboriginals’. Different points in landscapes fulfill a role in mythology. Aboriginals do not have their own written language, so they use their own symbols to express stories in their artworks.

aboriginal symbols
Aboriginal symbols

You might think that Aboriginal art isn’t alive anymore, but this is a contemporary art movement. When Aboriginal art was discovered by ‘Western people’, the aboriginals started to work with materials like canvas and acrylic paint. The collection of the AMUU shows many artworks from the 19th and 20th century, originating from the Western desert and Arnhemland in Australia. Although I’m usually not a big fan of contemporary artworks (especially not when this means putting a toilet upside down), I was quite impressed by the collection of the AAMU.

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Aboriginal artworks

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