Professor Paul Taçon is devoting his life to documenting and saving Australian rock art. Google, among others, has taken notice.
Van Gogh versus rock art. Both priceless. But one sits behind glass in a temperature controlled museum heavily guarded. The other is left out in the open, subject to vandals, insects and inclement weather.
It’s not practical to collect and store Australia’s rock art in museums, so Professor Paul Taçon of the Griffith Centre for Social and Cultural Research is doing the next best thing.
He is dedicating his career to travelling Australia, finding and documenting rock art.
The aim is simple: gather more information about Australia’s heritage, showcase these brilliant specimens properly and save the works for generations to come.
Raising the profile of rock art around the world wouldn’t hurt either.
Professor Taçon has spent the last three decades travelling extensively to remote areas of Australia to unravel the stories of our past and save them for our future.
Since 1980, he has spent the equivalent of more than six years specifically in field work, much of that living in tents in remote areas of the Australian outback and elsewhere in the world. In 2016 he was awarded a highly prestigious ARC Australian Laureate Fellowship.
The awards are made to researchers of outstanding international standing with Professor Taçon’s project “Australian rock art history, conservation and Indigenous well-being” receiving $2.5 million over five years.
The funding will be used for two PhD scholarships as well as two post doctorate-positions. Without the funding, recognition or action, half of Australia’s rock art could disappear within the next 50 years, Professor Taçon says.
His work has created such a stir that technology behemoth Google has taken note. Professor Taçon is now the only archaeologist featured on the global Google Art Project which displays images he has captured of Australia’s rock art alongside the masters such as Van Gogh and Rembrandt.
With more than 100,000 rock art sites believed to be scattered across Australia and the possibility of even more undiscovered treasures, Professor Taçon knows that time is running out to safeguard many of these ancient survivors.
Read the full story: One man’s battle to save and document our nation’s heritage