Spirituality in Contemporary Australian Art

Jane Magon


It is widely asserted that we are not a spiritually concerned culture and that there is no body of uniquely Australian religious art. But is this really the case? Australian culture is more complex than the standard interpretations of 'Australians' suggest, and characterisations of 'Australians' as an 'irreligious' people may be misleading. Moreover, as Richard Ely in Historical Studies (1980-81) notes, Australian historians may have been too quick to accept that during the last century and a half, European Australia has 'undergone almost total institutional secularisation'. While recent revisionist history reveals that popular forms of religious activity in Australian life and art have been ignored, one could say that many of the unusual, spiritual aspects have been generally edited out of representations of our culture.

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