The Artists of Arnhem Land

Duration: 30 minutes

First transmitted in 1963, David Attenborough looks at the aboriginal artists of Arnhem Land in Australia's Northern Territory. He discovers why they paint and in doing so, gets some insight into the very origins of art.

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    Attenborough the Early Years

    This programme is part of a collection of programmes showcasing the early work of Sir David Attenborough.


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  • More about this programme

    "The aborigines of northern Australia paint astonishing pictures," wrote Sir David Attenborough in the Radio Times in 1963. "They are drawn on sheets of bark with red and yellow ochres, soot, and white clay. Among geometrical shapes and cross-hatchings appear kangaroos and yams, lizards and human figures, fish and supernatural spirits. Often they are painted in a strange style which shows not simply their outward shape but also their skeletons, their heart, their lungs, and their muscles. The few examples of these paintings that come out of the vast tribal reserve of Arnhem Land are eagerly bought by art collectors for ever-increasing prices."

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    Programmes are selected, in part, for their historical context and reflect the broadcast standards and attitudes of their time, which may not accord to some current BBC editorial guidelines. We aim to select programmes which can be shown in their entirety but in some cases edits are required.


David Attenborough
David Attenborough
Series Editor
Brian Branston
Camera Operator
Charles Lagus
Sound Recordist
Bob Saunders


  • Fri 17 May 1963 19:30 BBC Television Service

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