The arts are an important means through which cultural groups tell their stories. According to Greenaway (1993), the arts have played a pivotal role in the shaping of Australian identity. For thousands of years, life has been known, celebrated, renewed and interpreted through spiritual expressions in the arts. Aboriginal people have always shared understanding and mutual concerns through story-telling, dance, song, painting and carving. These shared symbols have been ways of transmitting spiritual knowledge and reaffirming identity (Greenaway, 1993, p. 6).
From the Enlightenment onwards, religion and the religious world have often been treated with suspicion and viewed by the elite as unnecessary for cultural life. In theology, the printed word began to dominate imagination, drama, myth, pictures and storytelling. The separation of the arts from life remains a phenomenon of modernity. Whether the arts have been presented as symbolic, didactic, devotional or decorative in nature or merely as consumables, they are a powerful means of communication.