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Bark paintings, a powerful symbol of Aboriginality, were among the first artworks acquired by the Council for Aboriginal Affairs. They provided a strong message of respect for Aboriginal culture and linked the work of the office staff to the people they worked with and represented.

A colour painting on board featuring a face at the top with two snakes positioned vertically with two burial poles, two lizards and a black stingray in between. Down the sides are animals, broken up by dot and cross hatch patterns.
Mortuary Ceremony by Narritjin Maymuru

Bark paintings make up about a tenth of the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Affairs Art collection. The bulk of these painting were amassed in the earlier years, although some barks, including those of contemporary painters, continued to be acquired.

The Nhulunbuy, Sydney and Canberra offices held the largest collections. Featured artists included Narratjin Maymuru, Billy Yirawala and Roy Dadaynga Marika.

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