Friday, March 18, 2016

Complete IELTS Bands 6.5-7.5 Unit 4 Transcript for the listening on page 44

(Supplementary Materials for Specific Textbooks)

As I've mentioned before, I have the habit of actually typing out the transcript myself if I think it's buried in the back of the textbook in small font in an inconvenient place.

In this case, here is the transcript for the listening on page 43 of Complete IELTS 6.5-7.5, which I typed out myself so my students could have better access to it.

Google (docs, pub)

We’re going to have a look today at Aboriginal art and painting, which actually dates back 60,000 years, making it one of the oldest art traditions in the world.  Now, as long as indigenous people have been living in Australia, they’ve been creating different types of art. So let’s start by having a look at some examples of ancient art. It includes things like, as you can see here, rock paintings, bark paintings…. Even some sand drawings like this have been found. Then there’s the whole area of body art, which is so important for ceremonial practice, and lastly, here are some examples of decorative art on weapons and tools.

The oldest art examples today are the rock paintings because, obviously, rock is more durable than other materials and so the art has been preserved. In fact, most of this work is inside caves--largely because there, it’s been sheltered, hasn’t been destroyed by the weather, while the paintings on outside rock surfaces have often been washed away over the years.  Now, there are enormous variations in the style of Aboriginal rock art, depending on its age and location. Dot paintings are one of the best-known visual art forms of Aboriginal culture in which a surface is covered in small dots to reveal symbols. Typical ones include arrows like this--here’s a water hole, and these are animal tracks.  You get to see both the abstract dot paintings and more naturalistic art ….you get both in rock art of various ages. As the ancient aborigines didn’t have a written language, the key purpose of much of this rock art was storytelling, which has had a great significance for younger generations.

Let’s move on to look at the materials. Er, whatever they were painting, traditionally Aboriginal people all over Australia used pigment, such as ochre to make paint. Ochre’s very finely textured natural rock and, um, well they used this because ochre is plentiful across most of Australia. It’s coloured by iron oxide, which is the mineral that makes a lot of Australian outback soil--in places such as Ayers Rock--what is known as “Uluru red”, Uluru being the Aboriginal name for Ayers Rock.  However, depending on the exact conditions under which it formed, the shade can be anything from yellow to orange, red, purple or dark brown. Today, ochre occurs in many archaeological sites, and archaeologists at one site have discovered what appears to be an artist’s palette of ochres, dating back 18,000 years.

Preparing the ochre paints was time-consuming work. First, the appropriate rocks had to be found and collected. Then the rock had to be broken up and ground into a powder, and that had to be mixed with some sort of fluid to bind it into paint. Nowadays, the binder most commonly used is professional artist’s acrylic binder, but in the past, Aboriginal people used things like tree sap, or something similar like bush honey. Other fluids must also have been used but wouldn’t have held paint on rock or a piece of bark for thousands of years, so sadly those paintings would have been lost.

So, how have things changed? Well, modern Aboriginal is a mixture of the old and the new. Things changed in the 1970s really when Aboriginal people from many different parts of Australia, particularly south Australia, central and northern Australia, took up acrylic painting and began to paint on canvas.

Taking a modern approach has had many advantages. It saves artists a great deal of time, and they can still choose to use the traditional yellowish-reddish-brownish colours if they wish to. But perhaps the most important fact is that, unlike bark and rock paintings, the modern paintings are easy to sell. In fact, painting on canvas has given Aboriginal people an opportunity to showcase their art to the world and keep their ancient culture alive. Modern Aboriginal art, particularly dot painting, has take off and started selling on a big scale internationally. Aboriginal art can also be found on pottery and various musical instruments like didgeridoos and clapping sticks. Together, these have become some of the most popular souvenirs in Australia. Their artists, like other artists in the world, are now able to earn a living doing something they are passionate about.

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