Make your own souvenirs
WORDS KATE ROBERTSON
Make your own souvenirs
WORDS KATE ROBERTSON
Discover your inner artist.
Forget snow globes or cheesy magnets, when you take part in interactive tours that showcase the unique artistic styles and heritage of Australia’s Indigenous peoples, you can make your own souvenirs.
You can learn how to recreate the distinctive X-ray paintings found in rock art galleries throughout the Top End and the more contemporary and well-known dot painting techniques that began in the Central Desert in the 1970s, or head to Bathurst Island to take part in a workshop led by Tiwi Islanders who are famed for their colourful and intricate textiles. Whatever you choose, be sure to leave room in your suitcase for a handmade memento of your artistic Indigenous adventure.
The Tiwi Islands are famous for their beautiful textile designs.
Manuel will show you how to use a woomera to throw a spear.
Top Didj Cultural Experience & Art Gallery
Hidden in secluded rock art sites across Australia’s Top End there are remarkable ancient ‘X-ray’ paintings of animals, using hatch-style markings that accurately detail the animals’ internal organs. That some of the animals depicted are now extinct makes this rock art even more valuable.
Create your own masterpiece.
Dalabon man Manuel Pamkal grew up living on Country around Katherine, where the Top End meets the Outback. During his 180-minute cultural experience, he will teach you traditional art techniques and styles, including how to use rarrk brushes and bamboo sticks to create X-ray paintings. Under Manuel’s guidance, you’ll have the opportunity to use those techniques to create your own art on canvas.
Manuel, a compelling storyteller, will also share the meanings behind the various symbols and colours used in Jawoyn paintings and demonstrate how he has been able to live off the land.
You can try your hand at hunting and gathering techniques, such as throwing a boomerang and attempting to hit a mock kangaroo using a woomera (spear thrower) and spear, in the peaceful bush surrounds.
You’ll leave Top Didj with your unique artwork and a deeper understanding and appreciation of Aboriginal cultures.
Weaving is another form of artistic expression on the Tiwi Islands.
SeaLink NT – Tiwi Islands
Tiwi Islanders are known for creating intricate and colourful screen-printed textiles and a Tiwi by Design tour with SeaLink NT is a fun way to learn about Tiwi culture and art whilst making your own memento of your visit to one of Australia’s most unique and least visited areas.
There are nine Tiwi Islands and Bathurst Island is one of only two that are inhabited. After a 2.5-hour SeaLink ferry ride from Darwin to Bathurst Island, you’ll enjoy a Welcome to Country and smoking ceremony at Tiwi Design Art Centre, before a cuppa and damper morning tea with some of the artists who own and operate the studio.
Screen printing brings designs to life.
A Tiwi Islander demonstrates her weaving skills.
Then it’s time to make your own art, learning the versatile printing technique from Tiwi artists who will share their knowledge and expertise, as well as their culture and strong sense of community, as they guide you through the process of creating a design. As you slide a squeegee across the screen, you’ll be excited to see the ink transfer onto the fabric to reveal the results of your endeavours.
Experiment with a palette of ochre colours.
Aboriginal Artist Brian ‘Binna’ Swindley has been painting Kuku Yalanji Dreamtime stories for more than 30 years, inspired by the Great Barrier Reef and the rainforest’s plants and animals.
Competing with his love of painting is Binna’s desire to share his culture. He runs regular workshops where participants learn about Kuku Yalanji traditional practices and customs as they create their own works of art at his gallery.
Learn dot painting from Brian 'Binna' Swindley.
During his 1.5-hour workshop, Binna explains the stories and meanings behind the different symbols and colours used in contemporary Aboriginal art, and how they convey important messages about the land, animals and people.
You can choose to paint a canvas or decorate a boomerang in the dot painting style — using a bamboo stick and traditional ochre paints. As you paint, you’ll learn about the history of Indigenous art and painting techniques, and listen to Binna’s stories of traditional bush foods, medicines and construction materials.
By the end of the class, you’ll leave with your own stunning creation and a greater insight into the cultural significance of art for Aboriginal peoples.