What Makes Indigenous Art Unique?

What Makes Indigenous Art Unique?

There is a certain depth or soul to the Indigenous artistic style that eludes most western art. After all, the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples are the oldest living cultures on the planet, and with sixty thousand years worth of storytelling, mythology and culture to draw from, it shouldn’t surprise us that the art demands attention in this way.

Unlike western art, which has traditionally relied on a more literal mimetic approach to representation - where the art looks like the subject matter- Indigenous art has always been more expressive and symbolic. It took until the 20th Century for the Expressionist and Surrealists of Europe to catch up to what Indigenous artists had been doing for millenia. In this gap between the representation and the meaning, lies the fascination. You must reflect, contemplate and ponder on the piece in order to make something of it. But even if that interpretation still eludes you, there is something beautiful about the careful arrangement of dots and dashes. It evokes feelings and emotions which are difficult to articulate.

Contemporary Indigenous art combines weaves in the mythology of the dreaming, with the stories of their own lives and culture. Jacinta-rai Ridgeway-Maahs, one of Australia’s most exciting up and coming Indigenous artists, believes in the power of art to preserve these stories and experiences so that they can be passed on to the next generation. “If we can educate young people about our culture, that is what keeps it alive,” she says. “There is so much people can learn from our stories. One day, I would love to run workshops in schools. I’d love to paint with kids, talk about paintings, let them add their fingerprints to the art.”

Koh Living is partnering with Jacinta-rai so that these stories can be amplified to as many people as possible. Her unique designs can be found on a whole range of beautiful products; candles, notebooks, and so on. But most importantly, each design tells a different story, each one, a different meaning.

Together Again

‘Together Again’ tells the story of two people who are briefly separated when one passes away, before they are reunited once more in the Dreaming. Together, they reflect on the beautiful life they shared as they watch over their loved ones. Two rainbows symbolise how every experience strengthens their relationship, while the colourful surroundings represent their legacy and memories shared with family as they grew and walked together through country.


Jacinta-rai embraces the earthy tones, peachy pinks, pastels and bold colours of South East Queensland to create vivid depictions of country, community, culture and family. ‘Home’ represents the way we find our path and walk life’s journey on country. As individuals, we each contribute to the rich tapestry of community – all different yet equally essential for a balanced environment. It shows that we can walk together in unity and harmony, we can truly make a difference for generations to come.

Journeys in the Sun

‘Journeys in the Sun’ tells of the many experiences of Jacinta-Rai’s Worimi ancestors as they travelled across country. The circles represent various mobs in community, yarning with their young, teaching the way of the land using sun, sky and sea to survive on country. The tracks connect individual mobs and show how they come together in times of celebration or need - living together on country.

Tree of Life

This design depicts the journey of life; all that we were, are, and will one day be. The past is inseparably tied to country. Our ancestors understood the necessity to know and love the land that gave them life, and this echoes through to the present. Today, we find solace in connecting to country, sharing knowledge and storytelling in community. The Tree of Life design then turns to the future, as we dream of the endless possibilities that life affords to each of us.

Jacinta-Rai’s art feels ancient and contemporary at the same time. We might be biased, but we think there is something for everyone in our new winter range.