Australian Embassy

Old Masters exhibition in Darkhan-Uul Province


This year marks the 45th anniversary of diplomatic relations between Australia and Mongolia. As part of the anniversary celebration, Australian Embassy in Mongolia together with the National Museum of Australia and Darkhan-Uul province museum are presenting "Old Masters: Australia's Great Bark Artists" exhibition in Darkhan-Uul province between 20 November and 20 December 2017.

In order to promote aboriginal and traditional arts of Australia and Mongolia and to educate school children on two countries’ relations, history, customs and culture, an essay competition is being announced among Darkhan-Uul province high school students.  In addition, elementary school children can participate in a clay making competition.

More information on the competition can be found here (in Mongolian).

Old Masters: Australia’s Great Bark Artists features a selection of works from the richest collection of bark paintings in the world. 

This collection, cared for by the National Museum of Australia in Canberra, is one of Australia’s great cultural treasures.

This international touring exhibition was presented in Ulaanbaatar for the first time in June 2017. Consequently, the Australian Embassy in Mongolia organises the touring exhibition in Darkhan-Uul (December 2017) and Orkhon provinces (January 2018).

Bark painting, as practised for millennia by Aboriginal artists of Arnhem Land, in Australia’s north, was only recognised late in the 20th century as belonging to the great tradition of world art. The works are literally made of the land, on bark stripped from trees and with ochres ground from the earth.  


An article in the London Times in 1948 described Aboriginal painters of Australia’s Arnhem Land as ‘old masters’.  Over the past decades these bark painters of Arnhem Land have attracted the attention of the art world and the public at large; and subsequent generations of bark painters continue to build on this artistic heritage, while also taking their art in new directions. The paintings represented in the exhibition reflect the three stylistic regions in Arnhem Land: western Arnhem Land, where figurative images predominate; eastern Arnhem Land, where the emphasis is on geometric and conventionalised imagery; and central Arnhem Land, where artists tend to combine both approaches.  Within these three stylistic regions, Old Masters explores some of the major themes of bark painting, from the ancestral realm to expressions of identity and reflections on contemporary life.


14 November 2017