33. A PHILOSOPHICAL LOOK AT AUSTRALIAN ART AND CULTURE

Australian culture is embedded in the Dreamtime.  Dreamtime is part of the Qi, from which the universe – all things, light and dark, and all beings, spring.   Love of Country keeps us in touch with Qi.

Dorothea MacKellar’s poem “My Country” is an eloquent expression of love of Country.  It is not only first Australians who are drawn to a depth of love of every natural being and thing our nation symbolizes.

 

Australia is ONE. The symbol I have chosen to illustrate this chapter, the Yin and the Yang, expresses Australian culture.  The arrow and cross that it is the practice to use to symbolize male and female as separate entities, divide us, not only male and female, but the Yin of Aboriginal culture and the Yang of more modern cultures in Australia.  We are complementary, not opposing, forces. The Yang needs to embrace the Yin for Australia to be one, to reach its full potential.  The Yin also need to embrace the Yang.

 

Our first artists drew primitive paintings on cave walls with sharp stones only because they were the only mediums they had.  Once Albert Namitjira acquired paint brushes and paint, he transformed our landscape as though by magic.  It belittles the creative abilities of our first people when we expect of them only primitive art dot drawings.   We treat them like children, praising them for efforts we think are all they are capable of, when they can do so much better.

 

First Australians are steeped in the magic of the Dreamtime, which is why they are so creative in song, dance and story-telling.  They are also at home with their own bodies and make fine athletes and sportsmen.  We should embrace these attributes.   Yang should attempt to reach inside its soul and find the Qi, as should the Yin of our nation.

We can all be artists and thinkers.  Even the practical among us can, through embracing Yin, reach the Qi which spawns new discoveries in science, and new inventions.

Australian culture is not unlike Chinese civilization in its complementary make-up.    Chinese people seem aware of it, as we are not.  We are kindred spirits if instead of competing we blend.  There will always be small differences, as between dark and light, but think of us as in a sea of grey in which we can submerge as one in the Dreamtime.

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