Crayon drawings relating to the University of California Los Angeles expedition to Western Australia, 1953.

Archive Collections / Board for Anthropological Research / Crayon drawings relating to the University of California Los Angeles expedition to Western Australia, 1953.
Date Range1953  -  1953
CollectionBoard for Anthropological Research
Quantity 100cm,   224   crayon drawings in 1 archive box
ArrangedNumerical. Imposed by archives.
Series IdentifierAA346/21
Board for Anthropological Research Expedition R

This series comprises drawings by Aboriginal people that were commissioned by members of the Board for Anthropological Research party whilst on expedition. The process is best described by Charles Pearcy Mountford in 'Aboriginal Crayon Drawings', Records of the South Australian Museum, Vol. 6, pp 1-28: 'Sheets of brown wrapping paper, approximately 50 cm. by 30 cm., were distributed, together with [red, yellow, black and white] was especially desired that nothing external should influence the choice either of the subject, the colours chosen or the method of drawing'. The Aboriginal person 'was asked only to make marks (walka) on his paper'. (p5)

Mountford adds that intitially 'simple drawings of everyday things of aboriginal life were made, such as kangaroos, emus, trees, camps and waterholes' but after a week, confidence was gained and 'drawings relating to the travels and exploits of the aborginal's mythical ancestors began to be produced by the older man. From that time onward, no difficulty was experienced in obtaining designs, in fact, it was unfortunate that, as only a limited amount of time was available for interpretation of the detail, and the recording of the data, the distribution of sheets had to be curtailed.' (p6)

Each artist was identified by their data card identifier: see AA 346/4/22

Drawing collected and annotated by: Norman Tindale, Dr Joseph Birdsell and Jud Epling.

Children's drawings collected by: Mr JP Gill. According to Tindale's journal, AA 338/1/19/2 Tindale 'visited Mr J. P. Gill, the school teacher, who showed me & then presented me with a series of drawings made by his school children..Mr Gill has promised to have each child make two drawings for me, one to be based on their own concept of what aboriginal drawings are like & the other one free choice'. (pp1051-3)

For further information see:

  • 'University of Adelaide and University of California Anthropological Expedition, 1952-1954.' (AA 338/1/6)

  • Sutton, Peter, 1998, 'Aboriginal Maps and Plans', The History of Cartography, volume Two, Book Three, Cartography in the Traditional African, American, Artic, Australian, and Pacific Societies, David Woodward and G Malcolm Lewis (editors), The University of Chicago Press, pp 387-416.

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