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Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander

Visual Artists Resource Kit

Teacher’s Handbook


This text might identify Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander people who are now deceased in ways that inadvertently give offence to particular families or communities.

Copyright information
Published on the internet in 2007 by the Board of Studies NSW, GPO Box 5300, Sydney 2001, Australia.

Tel: (02) 9367 8111 Fax: (02) 9367 8484

Website: www.boardofstudies.nsw.edu.au

ISBN 978 174147 4350

© 2007 Copyright Board of Studies NSW for and on behalf of the Crown in right of the State of New South Wales.
This document contains Material prepared by the Board of Studies NSW for and on behalf of the State of New South Wales. The Material is protected by Crown copyright.
All rights reserved. No part of the Material may be reproduced in Australia or in any other country by any process, electronic or otherwise, in any material form or transmitted to any other person or stored electronically in any form without the written prior permission of the Board of Studies NSW, except as permitted by the Copyright Act 1968.
School students in NSW and teachers in schools in NSW may copy reasonable portions of the material for the purposes of bona fide research or study.
When you access the Material you agree:

  • to use the Material for information purposes only

  • to reproduce a single copy for personal bona fide study use only and not to reproduce any major extract or the entire Material without the prior permission of the Board of Studies NSW

  • to acknowledge that the Material is provided by the Board of Studies NSW

  • not to make any charge for providing the Material or any part of the Material to another person or in any way make commercial use of the Material without the prior written consent of the Board of Studies NSW and payment of the appropriate copyright fee

  • to include this copyright notice in any copy made

  • not to modify the Material or any part of the Material without the express prior written permission of the Board of Studies NSW.

The Material contains third-party copyright materials such as photos, diagrams, quotations, cartoons and artworks. These materials are protected by Australian and international copyright laws and may not be reproduced or transmitted in any format without the copyright owner’s specific permission. Unauthorised reproduction, transmission or commercial use of such copyright materials may result in prosecution.

The Board of Studies has made all reasonable attempts to locate owners of third-party copyright material and invites anyone from whom permission has not been sought to contact the Copyright Officer, ph (02) 9367 8289, fax (02) 9279 1482.

A note on spelling

The anglicising of Aboriginal words has resulted in many of them having a variety of spellings. The spellings in this resource kit are generally consistent with those used by the Australian Institute of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Studies in Horton, D (ed), Encyclopaedia of Aboriginal Australia (Aboriginal Studies Press, 1994), but it is acknowledged that there are other spellings that are equally valid.


Foreword by Gordon Stanley 4

Foreword by Carlo Svagelli 5

Introduction to the Affirmations of Identity Kit 6

Aboriginal Education Policies 6

Contents of Affirmations of Identity Kit 7

Indigenous Art and the New South Wales Curriculum 8

Community Consultation and Protocols 10

Considerations When Developing Teaching Programs 11

Strategies for Teaching Aboriginal Students 12

Terminology 13

Map of Areas Associated with the Featured Artists 14

Timeline and Associated Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Art 15

Units of work 25

Unit 1: A Cultural Journey 27

Unit 2: Ceramic Creatures 35

Unit 3: Unforgettable Tucker 43

Unit 4: Ancestors and Family Members 51

Unit 5: Reconciliation 59

Unit 6: Objects in the Landscape 67

Unit 7: Cultural Intersections 75

Unit 8: Place, Possession and Dispossession 83

Glossary 97


It is now seven years since the publication of the original Affirmations of Identity kit. It received a great deal of praise for shedding light on the current and historical diversity of ‘Aboriginal identity’ as represented in the visual arts. This web publication provides a much wider distribution of these resources and allows new functions such as the thematic packaging of images. It also has a wide range of website links to facilitate further research into the world of Aboriginal visual arts.

The visual arts can help break down barriers between people by communicating ideas and emotions that transcend words. When artists imaginatively and profoundly express personal insights, they can move audiences to greater empathy for cultural beliefs or attitudes.
The Affirmations of Identity suite of documents recognises the significance of the visual arts as part of the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander cultural heritage and enables teachers and students to appreciate not only the visual messages of the artworks but also the cultural meanings and personal issues that have informed the production of these works.
As well as being useful in the study of visual arts, this kit also has applications in Aboriginal Studies, History and Geography, and more widely across the curriculum to assist in the development of a deeper understanding of Aboriginal culture and artistic practices. The Board of Studies is delighted to support the re-publication of this highly respected curriculum resource.

(Professor) Gordon Stanley


Board of Studies NSW

This kit of educational resources is called ‘Affirmations of Identity’ because the resources call attention to the pride that Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people have in their identities and in their cultural heritages.
The material in this kit recognises that not only have the visual arts of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people survived, they are flourishing. Nor are they standing still: today’s artists are using new techniques and technologies, and coming up with new art forms, interpretations, stories and statements.
The selection of artists and works that are discussed in the kit suggest the diversity of Australia’s Indigenous visual artists and hint at the depth of talent and wide range of ideas that they have.
In both urban and rural areas, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander visual artists are

using their skills to sustain solidarity, to inform and enlighten, to challenge and to reconcile. They are also retelling important inherited stories in traditional and contemporary ways. They are contributing to the continuation of cultures that have existed since the beginning of time.

The internet publication of Affirmations of Identity will assist students to appreciate Indigenous artists, to understand something of what they are saying, and to acknowledge the ancient cultures of which they are a part.

Carlo Svagelli


NSW Aboriginal Education Consultative Group Inc

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