Publication Details

McLean, I. A. "The gift that time gave: Myth and history in the Western Desert painting movement." Cambridge Companion to Australian Art History. Ed.J. Anderson. Cambridge University Press: Cambridge University Press, 2011, 180-192.


The most fabulous moment in Australian art history occurred in the autumn of 1971 when an art teacher named Geoffrey Bardon supplied about a dozen Western Desert men with brushes and acrylic paint. Asmall and innocent gesture, it sparked a bushfire so intense that the cultural landscape was radically upturned, locally at first and then at a more universal level.

From rock art to Australian modernism, from bark paintings to the Heidelberg School, The Cambridge Companion to Australian Art provides a wide-ranging overview of the movements, themes and media found in Australian art. This Companion features essays that explore the influence of different cultures on Australian art, written by some of the leading scholars and professionals working in the field. Generously illustrated with over 200 colour images, from more than 40 collections and sites throughout Australia, this Companion provides a comprehensive exploration of the artistic identity of past and present Australia.

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