Saturday, February 19, 2011


Group of Nalbidji Spirit Men & Women, Pam Vovola.

I was recently contacted by a remarkable artist who focuses on the subject of rock art. Pam Vovola, as a student of archaeology and art, resided for a period of time in Australia and became fascinated by the aboriginal art she saw. She saw that “many of these timeless images are being destroyed by weather, time, and vandalism and become less and less visible every year.” This developed into a passion to record and preserve that imagery. “By using these images as my “cultural inspiration”, I am hoping to bring an interest to western art connoisseurs of the prehistoric art of the past and a way of saving long forgotten and sacred images for future generations.”

Two Tasseled Bradshaws with Marsupial, Pam Vovola.

Now I have long been somewhat critical of “artists” who adopt the styles and subject matter of the art of other cultures as, all too often, this means that they cannot come up with a style and subject matter of their own, and they are cashing in on the popularity of something that is not genuine and pertinent to them, and that they will never completely understand. The second I saw Pam’s art, however, I realized that this is clearly not the case with her work. Looking through her gallery at is like looking at the photos in a text on Australian aboriginal art, but with a difference.

Bradshaw Figure, Pam Vovola.

There are rare instances when a painting or drawing can capture more than a photograph can. In part this is because Pam works with natural pigments on a highly textured surface to reproduce the feeling of the rock surface. She explains that “Much of the paint is made from natural pigments that I’ve collected from all around the world. The images are not just painted on the board; they are actually carved into it. I research each piece very thoroughly and always try to find colored pictures so they can be reproduced as close as possible to the original. Attached to each piece is a narrative and explanation of the art, its approximate age, location, meaning, etc.” The less tangible part of the more-than-photographic truth of some paintings and drawings is the humanity and empathy of the artist. The artist’s ability to mentally and emotionally understand part of the creative process that the original aboriginal artist was experiencing. This can sometimes be translated to a feeling of relevance or “rightness” in the viewer that gives them a stronger experience than the photograph.

Wandjina mythological beings, Pam Vovola.

Pam now says she is expanding into Egyptian and Mayan art and I expect to see great things in this. As long as she sticks to her standards she will be producing works of art that will add to the public’s knowledge of  underappreciated art of other peoples and cultures. Pam Vovola’s work can be seen on her web site and you can find some newer examples that have not yet made it to her site by visiting her Facebook page. Thank you Pam for enhancing the rock art experience for us all.

Pam Vovola's website:

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