A re-interpretation of Larrakia art and artefacts
: Larrakia art and other cultural materials in institutions and their relevance to a Larrakia artist

  • Richard Kenneth Barnes-Koolpinyah

    Student thesis: Masters by Research - CDU


    In this thesis I describe my search for Larrakia material culture and research into the history and representation of Larrakia culture. I also discuss my interpretation of the material I found using my Larrakia education as a guide. Further, this thesis is an examination of my own search for that material in order to salvage Larrakia culture and restitute significant aspects of it through my paintings.

    In Chapter One I consider various aspects of constructions of the past in relation to Larrakia, constructions by, for instance, administrators, historians and the South Australian Museum, where I discovered a large collection of Larrakia artefacts.

    In Chapter Two my discussion about the purpose of museums and why people visit them explores the reasons for placing objects in museums, objects such as everyday Larrakia implements housed in an environment for which their makers did not intend them. I refer to the contentious issue of collecting and displaying human remains and how this led me to explore the issue of eugenics and the way that people perceive others who are represented by these remains. 
    In Chapter Three I relate traditional Larrakia material culture to my own artistic work and in particular, how I had been inspired by the discovery of artefacts found in institutions to create art which referred to the reliquary objects in variously open and restricted methods of representation for aesthetic, cultural and historical reasons. 

    I draw several conclusions: if Larrakia people do not nurture what has survived in their culture then it has an uncertain future. Exhibiting collections where Larrakia can see them can assist this process. This may also inspire other Larrakia artists to create works of art. The issue of Larrakia customary rights to land is particularly relevant to cultural survival. 

    Date of Award1999
    Original languageEnglish

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