Collection: Totems

Totems

Works by Indigenous detainees from the Alexander Maconochie Centre

Totems are often animals that are native to the area a tribe is traditionally from and form an important part of the food source during ceremonies and other culturally significant times throughout a person’s life. An example of this is when a woman is pregnant, she may be permitted to eat the meat of her totem animal, or a young man may eat the totem animal during his initiation into manhood, whereas at other times, eating the sacred animal is forbidden.

Each person in the tribe has a responsibility to learn to perform ceremony that relates to their gender and roles in the tribe. There is also a responsibility for people to learn the songlines and dances passed down to them in order to fulfil their spiritual obligations to the family.

Responsibilities include physical maintenance of sacred sites and spiritual management of the ceremonies related to those sites. This responsibility plays a part in defining the roles set within the tribe and strengthening the families’ connections with each other, the land and the spirits of creation.

This exhibition is a visual display of the connection each artist has to their totem animals, to the spirits of creation and to their traditional lands. They are a breathtaking portrayal of the power of totems.

www.belcoarts.com.au/totem

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