For anthropologists, the concept of having a 60,000 years old civilisation to review is a pretty exciting prospect and that’s exactly what The British Museum are planning to do with their latest exhibition, Indigenous Australia Enduring Civilisation. Australia may not be the most recent find from a Western perspective, but it’s own population has been culturally and artistically active for millennia and the upcoming exhibition is the latest to shine a spotlight on that fact.
Set to open at the London museum on the 23rd April 2015, it’s will be one of their major spring/summer shows as it is planned to run through until the 2nd August. Ticket prices are £10 for adults, free to members and children under the age of 16, and £8 for 16-18 year olds, disabled people and students. It’ll be open daily between 10am and 5.30pm with late opening on Friday evenings until 8.30pm, but the last entrance to see the exhibition will be 90 minutes before closing time.
Indigenous Australia Enduring Civilisation follows up The British Museum’s Australian Season of 2011 with a whole new focus on the sun baked continent that has set out to be the first major exhibition in the UK to give us an exposition of the anthropological history of Australia through the objects that have endured its vast expanses. While aboriginal peoples will be a big part of the display, there’s also a significant focus on the Torres Strait Islanders, a group of people who inhabit the islands which lie in the waterway separating Australia’s Cape York Peninsula and the island of New Guinea.
The exhibition has set out to celebrate the cultures of these civilisations, which themselves are made up of a diverse population spread over one of the world’s biggest countries. With hundreds of different groups of people found across Australia and the Torres Straits Islands, there’s a lot of ground to cover for the exhibition, especially when you factor in the 60,000 years of civilisation too.
The variety of environmental conditions has resulted in an equally varied array of objects and artifacts from the long history, so in addition to boomerangs and didgeridoos there’s also beautifully crafted bags, baskets and water carriers, turtle masks, like the one pictured above from the Torres Straits, and a number of incredible paintings and other works of art. Aboriginal artist, Uta Uta Tjangala’s masterpiece Yumari (1981) has been loaned to The British Museum from its usual home in the National Museum Of Australia, making it a rare opportunity to see the fabulously vivid acrylic paining.
It’s not the only loan to be included in the exhibition, as the museum has drawn on a number of sources from antipodean institutions to add to its own extensive collection of artifacts. There will also be a number of specially commissioned pieces of work on display as it attempts to demonstrate the continuation of the artistic styles that have stood the test of time.