Work at Netley

Cultural Heritage Management Practicum

Blog Post 4

Adrian Fenech

On the final day of my practicum I was given the opportunity to work at the South Australian Museum storage facility at Netley, helping to catalogue the collections. I was taught how to handle various artefacts correctly, which proved to be very helpful due to the preservation of some materials. The Aboriginal contemporary artwork was also very interesting in this regard when compared to the older artworks in the collection.

Spear throwers (Photograph from the South Australian Museum Netley storage facility).

The handling of artefacts, as I was informed, is generally common sense and simply being careful with the materials. Part of this is keeping an eye out for any signs of deterioration in the material which could cause damage if pressure is applied. This was often the case for Aboriginal bark paintings which had splits in the bark or where the edges were fraying.

A6431, Lake Condah Eel trap. Victoria. Collected 1910. (Source: artefact purchased from A.S Kenyon).

The most interesting materials that I was asked to catalogue were in fact the contemporary artworks by various Aboriginal artists. From my limited experience with ancient Aboriginal art, I was able to observe some similarities between the contemporary and ancient examples, such as concentric circle motifs. However, I also observed some differences between the temporal periods and noted that the contemporary examples had some quite geometric designs which I have note seen in archaeological contexts. I found these aspects interesting because they are some examples of continuity and variety in Aboriginal art over time.

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