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Australia: Art and Architecture


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Australia: Art and Architecture


Aboriginal Australian Art by Ronald M Berndt & Catherine H Berndt with John E Stanton. Published by New Holland Publishers. ISBN 1876334029. Recommended retail price $29.95.

Aboriginal art is a tradition that goes back many thousands of years. It embraces many traditions, such as rock paintings, bark paintings and sculpture, just to name a few. There are 'x-ray' images and Mimi art from Arnhem Land, Wandina figures from the Kimberley, and acrylic paintings and landscape watercolors from Central Australia. There are mythic and ceremonial items as well as representational sculptures. And there are a growing number of commercial art forms reflecting contemporary demands for both 'fine' and 'tourist' art.

Aboriginal Australian Art reviews many of these traditions and illustrates the cultural contexts within which these art forms have emerged - for this art not only has significance to Aboriginal heritage, but also to that of the wider Australian society. This book explains the complex mythology and symbolism, the colorful creation stories interpreted as the Dreaming, the detailed meanings of the works, their design, patterning and their purpose. Through this we can appreciate the meanings of these works to the Aboriginal people who created them - and how they can be understood by others, in a different context.

Although Aboriginal imagery lying within the closed ritual sphere may not be reproduced, Aboriginal Australian Art covers the many areas of artistic expression as broadly as possible. Over 150 plates accompanying the text are fully annotated and described, providing an excellent and comprehensive overview.

This book is informative as well as exciting, and relevant to everyone interested in Australian art. Soft cover, 182 pages. Published in 1998.


Accidental City, The : Planning Sydney Since 1788 by Paul Ashton. ISBN 0868065889. Published by Hale and Iremonger. Recommended retail price $25.

Almost daily, Sydney residents and visitors are told by contemporary observers that the City of Sydney is a product of piecemeal, opportunist development and laissez faire principles. Traffic congestion and the impact of high-rise buildings and freeways continue to stir great public debates. So too do questions concerning the future of controversial features of the City such as the Cahill Expressway.

The Accidental City critically traces the development and impact of modern town planning in the City of Sydney while setting it in a broad social context. Plans and planning devices - most of which died on drawing boards or were never implemented - are examined. So too are the personalities and often rough and tumble politics involved in attempts to control growth in Sydney. The Accident City is a lively and readable history of the planning fortunes of Australia's premier City. Soft cover, 128 pages. Published in 1995.



Conrad Martens on the Beagle and in Australia by Susanna De Vries. Published by Pandanus Press. ISBN: 0646141295. Recommended retail price $25.

Conrad Martens became Australia's first professional artist, and an Antipodean version of Turner, the painter who inspired him. Although Martens has become one of the best-loved Australian artists, somewhat surprisingly his life and his major works have never been fully documented. This well-researched biography covers Conrad Martens' early years in England, his period as official artist on the Beagle, his visits to Tahiti and New Zealand and his painting tours in the Blue Mountains, the Illawarra, Brisbane, the Darling Downs, New England, and the Hunter Valley, as well as his life and work in Sydney. It deals with problems of forgeries of his work based on substituting less valuable unsigned works by J.M. Rugendas, George Peacock or those by his daughter Rebecca, whom he taught. It details Martens' voyage with Charles Darwin on the Beagle, their survey of the Santa Cruz River, their search for the murderers of the Governor of the Falkland Islands and the story of Jemmy Button, the Fuegian Indian taken to England and educated as an English gentleman who then returned to join his tribe with disastrous results. Martens' drawings and profile maps of the Falklands proved so strategically important and accurate that the British War office consulted them during the recent Falklands War. The author's clear and lively text provides insight into colonial life and early art patronage - or the lack of it - as well as dealing with Martens' pupils, patrons, exhibitions, and the lithographs. Three maps, sixteen color plates, seventeen black and white illustrations and a six-page chronology of Martens' life make this the definitive biography for general readers and students of colonial art and colonial history. Soft cover, 208 pages, limited ed. edition (1993).


Contemporary Melbourne Architecture, A Guide to edited by Doug Evans et al. Recommended retail price $28, our price $26.50.

This is a difficult package to categorize. Is it a great little book with supplementary CD or maybe a great CD with a supplementary book? Either way it remains the only comprehensive guide to contemporary Melbourne architecture. The work of 66 architects and architectural companies are highlighted, many with multiple designs. If you are an architectural student, a practicing architect or simply interested in the beauty of modern design this book/CD combo come highly recommended.

Photography of the Age: Newspaper photography in Australia by Kathleen Whelan. ISBN 086806484X. Published by Hale and Iremonger. Recommended retail price $25.

Who decides what's news? How do the images we see in our newspapers affect our views of the world? Socially, photography is the most powerful visual art of the 20th century. This book, using contemporary images from The Age, and with the help of its editorial and pictorial staff, takes us through the processes of commissioning, selecting and placing images in a breathing, working newspaper.

Part One explains the work of compiling the daily news and the deadlines which photographers must meet; technology and appropriate film and equipment; the role of the pictorial editor; and how page layouts and readerships interact. The
legal and moral implications of publishing photographs where the public's right to know and the individual's right to privacy seem at odds is also discussed.

Part Two analyses in depth a representative sample of the work of 25 newspaper photographers. Individual statements from the photographers alongside examples of their work provide a personal overview of their profession. Soft cover, 144 pages. Published in 1993.


Yirawala: Painter of the dreaming by Sandra Le Brun Holmes. Published by Hale and Iremonger. ISBN 0 86806 542 0. Recommended retail price $28.

To Yirawala ceremony leader, law carrier, medicine man and healer of the Gunwinggu tribe each painting is like the page of a sacred book, the Aboriginal book, with sacred designs preserving traditional Aboriginal knowledge and beliefs.

Yirawala asked Sandra Le Brun Holmes to write this book so that white Australia might understand the relationship between ceremonial painting and Aboriginal religion and law. Yirawala: Painter of the Dreaming is a testament to his life and works and contains color plates and explanations of the entire ceremonial series of 139 painting collected by Holmes and now in the Australian National Gallery, Canberra. Soft cover, 160 pages, published in 1992.


Click on links below for these books.


Historic Sydney: The Founding of Australia by Susanna de Vries

Suburban Backlash: the battle for the world’s most liveable city by Miles Lewis


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