Forrest scholar to study the rock art legacy of the Kimberley

Ana Motta dig in France






A rock art researcher, Ana Paula Motta, has been awarded the prestigious Forrest Research Foundation Scholarship. It is the first time this Scholarship has been awarded to a scholar of the Social Sciences. Ana will be based at the UWA’s Centre for Rock Art Research and Management (CRAR+M) while she completes a Doctor of Philosophy in Archaeology.

Ana was drawn to the rock art of the Kimberley for its potential as a place to study identity (and the impact of social and environmental change on identity). A fortuitous and fleeting meeting with Professor Peter Veth, the CRAR+M’s inaugural Kimberley Foundation Ian Potter Chair of Rock Art, at a conference in Oxford in 2015, cemented her interest in the Kimberley. Peter assisted with the co-supervision of her thesis and subsequently invited her to continue her research and apply for a place as a PhD student at CRAR+M. He encouraged her to submit an application for a Forrest scholarship. It is the rst Forrest Foundation Research Scholarship awarded to a South American.

After studying Anthropology and Archaeology at the University of Buenos Aires, where she obtained a Bachelor of Science and a teaching degree in Anthropology in 2014, Ana studied for a Master of Science in Paleoanthropology and Palaeolithic Archaeology at University College London. Her Master’s dissertation “Rock art and identity: the construction of personhood in northeastern Kimberley, Western Australia” was awarded the UCL Institute of Archaeology’s Masters Prize in November 2016 and included on the Social and Historical Sciences Dean’s list.

Ana’s PhD research will contribute to the KFA and ARC supported Kimberley Visions: Rock Art Style Provinces in Northern Australia project. She is accompanying the Visions research team into the Kimberley this month. Ana will focus on the artistic traditions of ancient rock art in the Kimberley and what this imagery reveals about the formation of identity of Australia’s rst peoples. She is particularly interested in the complex and detailed gurative rock art of the North East Kimberley such as the Gwion (Bradshaw gures), and what these gures might tell us about how people responded to their environment and the natural world. She will also record and explore the interactions and relationships between humans and animals in the artistic expression of the Kimberley.

Ana was born in Buenos Aires, Argentina and has been involved with archaeological and historical projects in Argentina, France and Australia, including studying the early Holocene and late Pleistocene hunter-gatherer occupations in north-western Argentina and Upper Palaeolithic hunter-gatherer occupations in Ardèche (southern France), where she collaborated with Upper Palaeolithic excavations and rock art recording at two sites.

The Forrest Scholarship is providing Ana with an extraordinary opportunity to study the unique rock art legacy of the Kimberley in the field, and work with the multi-disciplinary team of scholars and researchers at CRAR+M, with the expert guidance and supervision of Professors Peter Veth, Jo Mcdonald and Sven Ouzman. The three-year scholarship will also support Ana’s attendance at international and domestic conferences and provide opportunities for specialist training to hone her research and writing skills.

The Forrest Scholarship is awarded to scholars with outstanding academic ability. Andrew and Nicola Forrest established the scholarship program in 2014. The aim of the program is to encourage and assist outstanding scholars to study in Western Australia.

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