“Our dad’s painting is hiding, in secret place”: Reverberations of a rock painting episode in Kakadu National Park, Australia

Joakim Goldhahn, Linda Biyalwanga, Sally K. May, Julie Blawgur, Paul S.C. Taçon, Joanne Sullivan, Iain Johnston, Jeffrey Lee

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Abstract

This paper presents and discusses a 1972 rock painting episode at Koongarra in Kakadu National Park in the Northern Territory, Australia. This painting, which depicts a macropod, was created by Billy Miargu when he camped at a sandstone outlier with his wife and young daughter. It was documented by two rock art scholars, George Chaloupka and Robert Edwards, but interpreted as untraditional ‘casual art’. Using a community-based approach, we re-evaluate this painting episode by (i) exploring the depicted subject matter from an emic perspective, demonstrating how it refers to the origin myth of an important ceremony, and, (ii) through interviews with the descendants of the artist, we discuss and investigate how the 1972 painting episode is commemorated and understood today. Our findings are grounded in contemporary discussion within anthropology and archaeology that explores multivocal Indigenous voices in the interpretation of material culture in general, and rock art in particular.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)59-69
JournalRock Art Research
Volume38
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - May 2021

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