Vivien Johnson: Once Upon a Time in Papunya

The force of Dreaming

Ian McLean


Once Upon a Time in Papunya
by Vivien Johnson
New South, $34.95 pb, 400 pp, 9781742230078


The most widely known story of Australian art is about the beginnings of Papunya Tula. It has, says Vivien Johnson, been ‘retold so often that it almost has the force of Dreaming’. Its force is not just due to the story’s frequent telling, but also to the crime with which it begins, which was the making of prohibited images.

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Ian McLean

Ian McLean

Ian McLean Professor of Australian Art History at the University of Wollongong. He has published extensively on Australian art and particularly Aboriginal art. His books include White Aborigines Identity Politics in Australian Art and Art of Gordon Bennett (with a chapter by Gordon Bennett), and How Aborigines Invented the Idea of Contemporary Art is due to be released in August this year. He is also on the advisory boards of Third Text, the international journal of postcolonial art, World Art and National Identities.

By this contributor

Published in November 2010 no. 326

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