Since time immemorial, art has proven to be an essential mode of human expression. Its manifestation varies broadly, including painting, dance, music, literature, and sculpture. One notable element in the realm of sculpture, particularly tribal art, is the ‘spoke‘ – an integral element symbolizing interconnections of existence. This essay explores the significance of a ‘spoke’ and how it intricately serves as a core component in the world of aboriginal sculpture art.

Historically, the ‘spoke’ has been an essential part of various artifacts, mainly in traditional wheel-based systems. Derived from the Old English ‘spaca,’ the term implies apart or division, thus becoming suitably representative of an entity that connects yet segregates. Over centuries, this concept transcended from practical utilities into mystical symbolism and found essence in various forms of art, specifically in sculptures.

Australian aboriginal sculpture is replete with ‘spoke’ concepts. To the uninformed, this could merely seem like an aesthetic choice. But closer inspection reveals its profound symbolism featuring life’s enigmatic interconnections. Just as a wheel’s spokes expand out from the hub to the rim, relationships in our lives spread out from our core – personal experiences and perceptions.

In indigenous art, the central hub of these spokes can symbolize an individual or community’s core. The spokes themselves represent individual paths or journeys extending out, exploring relationships with nature, spirituality, and the interplay between diverse elements. These paths are connected yet separate, reinforcing the concept of individual identity amidst shared experiences.

For instance, in an Australian aboriginal sculpture, depicting a ‘Dreamtime’ ancestral story, the core or hub represents the Ancestor beings. The individual spokes signify the paths they took to travel across country, creating the landscape, other beings, and laws of society. Here, the ‘spoke’ underscores the aboriginal perspective – everything in the world is interconnected, and each item, regardless of its nature, influences everything else. It emphasizes the cyclical pattern of existence, where birth, life, death, and rebirth are endless cycles in continuous motion, just like a wheel.

Despite this intrinsic significance, aboriginal sculpture has often been overlooked in the mainstream art world. It’s primarily due to the lack of significant platforms for showcasing these masterpieces and the absence of awareness regarding their profound symbology. However, recently, there’s been a welcome shift in perception towards aboriginal sculpture, with various cities, particularly Sydney, conducting auctions dedicated to this art form.

Aboriginal sculpture auctions in Sydney

These events are not just buying and selling platforms but have evolved into cultural interfaces, bridging the gap between traditional tribal art and global audience. The inclusion of the ‘spoke’ symbol in these auctions acts as a powerful educational medium, reinforcing the long-held belief in the interconnectivity of humans, nature, and the cosmos. It’s slowly gaining recognition as a potent symbol resonating with the struggles of individual identity in an interconnected world.

To conclude, the ‘spoke’ symbol in aboriginal sculpture art transcends aesthetics and journey into the realm of metaphysical interpretation. It silently narrates the universe’s stories while emphasizing the symbiotic relationship between individuals, their community, and the wider cosmos. Acknowledging this power of the ‘spoke,’ we can hopefully perceive a more profound appreciation for this art form in future aboriginal sculpture auctions in Sydney, and beyond.

Categories: Arts