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Bradshaw Foundation Books
Ancient Rock Paintings of North-West Australia
by Grahame Walsh
• Publisher: Bradshaw Foundation
• Language: English
The Bradshaw Paintings are incredibly sophisticated, as you will see from the 32 pictures in this book, yet they are not recent creations but originate from an unknown past period which some suggest could have been 50,000 years ago. This art form was first recorded by Joseph Bradshaw in 1891, when he was lost on an Kimberley expedition in the north west of Australia. Dr. Andreas Lommel stated on his expedition to the Kimberleys in 1955 that the rock art he referred to as the Bradshaw Paintings may well predate the present Australian Aborigines.
The Mystery of the Bradshaw Paintings of Australia
According to legend, they were made by birds. It was said that these birds pecked the rocks until their beaks bled, and then created these fine paintings by using a tail feather and their own blood. This art is of such antiquity that no pigment remains on the rock surface, it is impossible to use carbon dating technology. The composition of the original paints cant be determined, and whatever pigments were used have been locked into the rock itself as shades of Mulberry red, and have become impervious to the elements.
Fortuitously, in 1996 Grahame Walsh discovered a Bradshaw Painting partly covered by a fossilised Mud Wasp nest, which scientists have removed and analysed using a new technique of dating, determining it to be 17,000 + years old.
In 1938, the British explorer Sir George Grey described the Australian Kimberley as the "roughest that he had ever seen". Over the last sixteen years Grahame Walsh has explored this part of Australia, and its harsh inhospitable environment mainly on foot, and has discovered thousands of these magnificent Bradshaw Paintings.
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Grahame Walsh
Grahame Walsh was born in Queensland, Australia, and was interested in rock art since he was thirteen. He trained as a newspaper photographer, then moved to the country to be near the art he so admired. He was soon taken into the confidence of the property owners, which enabled him to visit many cultural sites not well known.
He joined the Queensland National Wildlife Parks Wildlife Service in 1977 to work in the Carnavon National Park area and was later appointed technical officer (historic sites). He criss-crossed the remote vastness of North Australia in search of pre-historic rock art. Grahame Walsh took thousands of photographs and compiled information which placed him as one of the leading experts on the Bradshaw/Gwion Gwion paintings.
In 1988 he was commissioned by the Australian Government to produce a book for the National Bicentenary that covered all of the known aborigine works of art - 'Australia's Greatest Rock Art'. He was awarded the J. P. Thompson Medal by the Royal Geographical Society of Queensland in 1990.
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