Acting Director Dr. Jeff Taylor and the entire School of Art community are grieving at the passing of Prof. Cliff Eyland. Eyland was hired to the School of Art in August 1998 as professor of painting and as Director-Curator of Gallery One One One, predecessor to the School of Art Gallery, a position he held until 2010. His work with the Gallery was innovative, dynamic and risk-taking, and with a minimum of means he and his Gallerist Robert Epp were able to mount full exhibition programs, a series of CD-ROM and print publications, and an early gallery website which became a model of its kind and is still operational, functioning as a full archive of the Gallery during his leadership.
He was an influential and generous teacher beloved by his students, one who never imposed his own aesthetic approaches. He continued to mentor many of them long after they had graduated, just as he also promoted the work of deserving up-and-coming artists no matter what their educational background. Most recently he devoted a significant portion of his downtown studio to his “Library Gallery” which gave many junior artists their start and senior artists a boost.
He was himself a prolific and highly-skilled artist, producing thousands of paintings and drawings each year in the format of the traditional library card catalogue, and his association with both libraries and archives was deep. He participated in artist residencies at both the National Gallery of Canada Library and Archives in Ottawa and the Library of the New School University in New York. He received major public art commissions from libraries, most remarkably the Millennium Library in Winnipeg and the Halifax Central Library. He exhibited widely, including at the National Gallery of Canada, the Art Gallery of Ontario, the Art Gallery of Nova Scotia and the Winnipeg Art Gallery. He was a co-founder, along with his colleague Prof. Dominique Rey, of the performance art group the Abzurbs, and was Winnipeg’s AKIMBO correspondent from 2006 to 2010. He was an intellectual who read voraciously and published extensively, including in Border Crossings magazine.
Cliff was prolific in his contributions to the School and the University: He served as School Senate representative for many years, he proposed and instituted the course in curatorial studies, and he was a major driving force behind the establishment of the MFA Program, among many other initiatives. He was a generous and supportive colleague, who both entertained and teased his fellows (and sometimes ruffled the feathers of administrators), even while he was a fine administrator himself. The Wednesday evening marathon co-teaching sessions in The Art Barn with his colleagues Prof. Sharon Alward and Prof. Kevin Kelley have become the stuff of legend.
Suffering from a congenital lung ailment, he went on sick leave in 2014, and despite wanting to do so was unable to return to teaching prior to his retirement in the fall of 2019. We mourn the loss of this generous, brilliant, iconoclastic colleague.
Australian archaeologists have discovered some of the most detailed examples of rare, small-scale rock art in the form of miniature stencils in a rockshelter traditionally owned by the Marra people.
The research, published in the journal Antiquity, examined the unusual art from the Yilbilinji rockshelter at Limmen National Park in the southwest Gulf of Carpentaria region of northern Australia.
Traditionally owned by the Marra Aboriginal people, the site was documented by the research team in 2017 and instantly stood out as unique, according to the researchers from Flinders University and the Monash Indigenous Centre.
“It’s the size of the rock art that makes this site unusual and highly distinctive,” says Flinders University archaeologist ARC Future Fellow Dr. Liam Brady.
“Typically, stencilled rock art around the globe features full or life-sized dimensions such as human and animal body parts, objects (e.g. boomerangs), and even plant matter.
“However, many of the stencils at Yilbilinji are tiny or miniature-sized, and too small to have been made using real-life body parts and full-size objects.”
Only two other examples of this miniature stencilled form of rock art, both human figures, are known from anywhere in the world: one at Nielson’s Creek in New South Wales, and one at Kisar Island in Indonesia.
The research team—archaeologists, anthropologists, Marra rangers, and Limmen National Park rangers—recorded a total of 17 images of these miniature stencils during a 2017 field trip.
The images depict a wide range of motifs including, human figures, animals (crab, long-necked turtles), kangaroo paws, wavy lines, boomerangs, and geometric shapes.
The researchers set out to find out how these unusual images were made. One clue came from the fact most of the miniature stencils were made with rounded and curved edges meaning they were probably made using something that could be easily moulded and stuck to the rock surface.
Another clue came from anthropological research in the region. Co-author and anthropologist Dr. John Bradley, from the Monash Indigenous Centre, has worked with Aboriginal people in the study area for more than 40 years.
He remembers seeing beeswax used by people for a range of purposes such as an adhesive for repairing spears and harpoons. He also saw children shaping beeswax into objects and animals such as cattle, horses and cowboys.
“Using these clues, the researchers decided to test if beeswax could have been used to make the miniature stencils,” he says.
“Our experiments involving heating and shaping beeswax into human figures, animals, objects, and geometric shapes, and then stencilling onto a rock slab confirmed beeswax was an excellent material for making miniature stencils.”
“Whoever made these miniature stencils—adults or children—is open for debate, as is their meaning,” says Matthew Flinders Fellow Professor Amanda Kearney.
“However, what is important here is that this discovery adds another dimension to the Australian and global rock art record,” she says.
In fact, since this discovery was made, three additional stencils have been discovered in the area—a human figure, an echidna and a freshwater turtle—which further highlights the archaeological potential at Limmen National Park.
The article, “A rare miniature and small-scale stencil assemblage from the Gulf of Carpentaria: replication and meaning in Australian rock art,” (May 2020) by Liam M Brady, John J Bradley (Monash University), Amanda Kearney and Daryl Wesley has been published in Antiquity.
More information: Liam M. Brady et al. A rare miniature and small-scale stencil assemblage from the Gulf of Carpentaria: replication and meaning in Australian rock art, Antiquity (2020). DOI: 10.15184/aqy.2020.48
Citation: Miniature rock art expands horizons (2020, May 26) retrieved 26 May 2020 from https://phys.org/news/2020-05-miniature-art-horizons.html
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This 500-year-old rock art is among the rarest in the world. Found at a site called Yilbilinji near northern Australia’s Gulf of Carpentaria—and depicting a humanlike figure holding a boomerang (right), surrounded by more boomerangs—it’s a type of stenciling that involved creating miniature outlines of humans, tools, and other shapes. Similar, much older mini-stencils have been found elsewhere in Australia and around the world. Now, scientists think they know how ancient people made them.
Australia’s Aboriginal populations have been creating rock art for at least 44,000 years. Typically when stenciling, the artist held their hand or other object up to the rock and sprayed pigmented liquid onto it, leaving behind a life-size negative on the wall.
But the red-rock overhang at Yilbilinji features much smaller figures: 17 minihumans, boomerangs, and geometric patterns—all too tiny to have been modeled after a painter’s hand or a real object. One of the new study’s co-authors remembered seeing Aboriginal people using beeswax as a kind of clay for making children’s toys resembling cattle and horses. Might the ancient rock artists have used beeswax to form stencils?
Working with representatives of the local Indigenous Marra people, the researchers attempted to replicate the ancient art using only materials native to the region. By heating and molding beeswax, sticking it to the rock, and spraying it with a white-pigment paint, they managed to produce rock art exceptionally similar to the originals found at Yilbilinji, they report today in Antiquity.
The miniature art may have served a spiritual or ritualistic purpose, the researchers note. Or, they suggest, because many of these stencils are positioned relatively low on the rocky overhang, it may have just been child’s play, the ancient equivalent to children scribbling on the walls.
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