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A colour dot painting on canvas featuring three rounded 'cross' shapes against a multicoloured background. Black concentric circles are at the centre of each central shape. - click to view larger image
Untitled by Turkey Tolson Tjupurrula

There are many acrylic paintings in the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Affairs Art collection, with feature artists including John John Bennett, Lin Onus, Kathleen Petyarre, Andrew Spencer Tjapaltjarri, Trevor Nicholls and Turkey Tolson Tjupurrula.

A highlight of the collection are early paintings from Papunya, acknowledged as the birthplace of Western Desert acrylic painting.

From the 1970s, and encouraged by the Aboriginal Arts Board which promoted their work nationally and internationally, artists from the Western and Central Desert regions embraced painting on boards and canvases.

The marks and designs they painted, rich in symbolic meaning, had previously been confined to ceremonial use, as painting designs on the ground and on people's bodies.

In the south, the paintings of urban-based Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander artists working in acrylic emerged in a different tradition – one of politics and protest. These works are charged with individual expressions of history; they draw on shared pasts and singular experiences.

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