The Centre for Rock-Art Studies aspires to be a focal point for research and conservation activities into Indigenous rock-art.
Although rock-art research is the principal component of Centre for Rock-Art Studies (CRAS) it represents only one part of people’s social and symbolic behaviour.
Rock-art informs many other past and present Indigenous artistic practices, and therefore cannot be studied in isolation.
CRAS seeks to bring together multidisciplinary researchers (archaeologists, chemists, fine arts specialists, Indigenous artists, and historians) and Indigenous communities to strive towards creating a more holistic understanding and awareness of the cultural significance of Indigenous rock-art.
By examining various contexts and aspects associated with rock-art, from both Indigenous and non-Indigenous perspectives, researchers believe they can achieve a balance in the efforts to use Indigenous visual heritage to learn more about its role in the lives of Indigenous Australians.
The Centre’s core values are to
- Collaborate, understand, communicate and protect.
- Collaborate with Indigenous communities in a culturally sensitive manner to generate knowledge about rock-art from both Indigenous and non-Indigenous perspectives.
- Understand Indigenous rock-art, primarily through undertaking world-class, partnership-based, interdisciplinary research.
- Communicate this important aspect of Indigenous cultural heritage by providing relevant information to both the academic and broader community.
- Protect Indigenous rock-art by advocating, to government and industry, its heritage value, and by developing partnerships with relevant Indigenous groups/organisations to create sustainable heritage strategies.
The Centre is focused on five key work areas.
1) Research - The main aim is to engage in collaborative research projects aimed at furthering our understanding of rock-art’s role in the development of Indigenous and non-Indigenous cultural histories.
In association with Indigenous communities, we develop strategies to promote research into the conservation and preservation of Australia’s rock-art heritage. These strategies include such activities as convening academic symposiums and conferences focusing on developments in the discipline.
The Centre also encourages young researchers, especially Indigenous researchers, by creating opportunities for postdoctoral study.
2) Recording - The Centre works as partners with Indigenous communities to systematically document rock-art in a culturally sensitive and ethical manner.
In doing this, they continually develop and refine new and existing recording methods using digital technologies to create an accurate and long-lasting record.
3) Education and training - As well as training future researchers by providing opportunities for postgraduate study, including postgraduate scholarships, the Centre aims to improve the general awareness and appreciation of rock-arts immense heritage values.
They also work with Indigenous communities to provide training for undergraduate students, Indigenous Ranger groups, and other relevant Indigenous organisations in proper rock-art recording and analytical techniques.
4) Publication - As part of their work, they produce high-quality research publications in internationally recognised outlets and other media for dissemination to both academic and non-academic audiences collaborating with Indigenous communities and digital media experts to create and design new and innovative ways to present and preserve rock-art heritage.
They have also developed a high-quality monograph series devoted to Australian and international rock-art research.
5) Community outreach -engaging with the broader Australian community to share the cultural significance of Australia’s rock-art heritage.