Schoolchildren paint over Aboriginal rock art with artist's blessing

Schoolchildren paint over Aboriginal rock art with artist's blessing

Schoolchildren paint over Aboriginal rock art with artist's blessing

Updated 19 May 2017, 18:45 AEST

School students in far west NSW give faded Aboriginal rock art new life with colour.

Schoolchildren from the remote north-west New South Wales town of Tibooburra have given a makeover to old rock paintings that had faded over time.

Two decades ago, an Indigenous female elder with an association to the region painted the rocks with the help of the then local school children.

Nearly 20 years on, the kids from Tibooburra Outback Public School, White Cliffs Public School and the School of the Air-Broken Hill had the blessing of not just the Tibooburra Local Aboriginal Land Council (TLALC), but one of the original artists.

"I painted them when I was a schoolkid here back in the 90s, when I was 10 or 11," said Miles Lalor, Chair of the TLALC.

"The paint was fading … they needed a bit of a touch up."

Mr Lalor, a Barkindji man from Wilcannia who came to Tibooburra when he was four years old, was not precious about his 'ancient' drawings, so he allowed the kids to treat the rocks as a blank canvas.

"We asked the kids what they'd like to do and they told us," he said.

"There's native animals, kangaroos, emus, a few snakes and a watering hole with animals who've come to drink.

"I did the outline and they filled them in."

Rocky Robinson, acting CEO of the TLALC, said the children were encouraged to keep their new designs close to resembling the traditional Aboriginal style.

"We tried to keep it in with traditional indigenous art, and the kids sort of understand the symbols for water, food, camping grounds, things like that," he said.

"We try to involve the kids in whatever we're doing — whether it's at the 'Keeping Place' Museum or out here.

"It just makes them feel special, because they're part of everything."

One of the artists, 12-year-old Jill, seemed to understand the importance of making one's artwork distinctive.

"Sometimes it's good for your painting to be really original and unique," she said, as she added the last splashes of colour to a bright orange and green goanna.

"I chose the orange because it really brings out the outline, and I chose green because it. I think it just goes with the rest of the picture."

Eleven-year old Alexis looked to the skies for inspiration.

"I got a sun with an eagle in front of him," she said.

"It's to represent eagle, the king of the skies.

"I like how big they are, and their wings, how they move them. They look really cool soaring up there."

But it was Ethan, a young boy from a station 80 kilometres out of town, who seemed to get the most out of the day.

"This boomerang here is brown with long purple spots," he explained.

"And then this lizard over here, it's got like kind of a spearmint colour with orange and blue.

"Then this little dolphin-looking thing, it's got blue with a black outline and purple spots.

"Then this little water sign down here, it's like an Aboriginal sign, so if there was a water hole nearby the Aborigines would put that little thing down on the rocks..."

"I don't really do that much painting," Ethan confessed.

"I think I'll try and do it more often."