An art medium that was influential in the development of Indigenous women as artists is on display at the Bendigo Art Gallery.
Desert Lines displays almost 60 Batik works from five central Australia desert communities - Ernabella, Fregon, Utopia, Yuendumu and Kintore.
Batik is a form of wax-resist fabric dyeing that was introduced to Indigenous women in the early 1970s. It served as a pre-cursor to Aboriginal women exploring and mastering other art mediums.
Bendigo Art Gallery's First Nations curator Shonae Hobson said Batik art was introduced to Indigenous communities to give women an opportunity to learn new skills.
"It was a communal activity when the women would get together to share stories," she said.
"The Batiks was interesting because they weren't prized by the fine art market, they were considered craft work at the time.
"But in a contemporary context we can look back at them and appreciate them for what they were."
The exhibition is on loan from the National Gallery of Victoria and went on display on August 17.
Ms Hobson said many people weren't aware of Batik and its introduction to Indigenous communities.
"What we wanted to do was show that early genesis of Indigenous women's art and focus on (Batik's) important contribution," she said.
"There was no constraint on the artists to produce work for a market. They have beautiful colours and don't conform to traditional Indigenous aesthetics that would have been introduced around that time.
"Because there was no market or constraint to produce a work that had a story, not all the Batiks have a specific story, their more innate to the artists themselves.
"It's the art-historical discourse that kind of pigeon-holed Indigenous art as having to have meaning but these Batiks totally go against that and challenge pre-conceived notions of what Indigenous art is and what they represent."
Ms Hobson highlighted Emily Kam Kngwarray as an Indigenous artist who practiced Batik before moving on to become recognised in the art world.
"It wasn't until a lot of Indigenous artists worked in acrylic paints on canvas that they got recognised as artists," Ms Hobson said.
"Two of (Emily's) paintings feature in the exhibition and she worked in Batik for years before transitioning to painting on canvas.
"But it wasn't until her works on canvas were bought by institutions that people started to take notice of her early Batik works."
Desert Lines: Batik from Central Australia is on display at the Bendigo Art Gallery until November 17.
Have you signed up to the Bendigo Advertiser's daily newsletter and breaking news emails? You can register below and make sure you are up to date with everything that's happening in central Victoria.