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Not long ago a news report out of Australia described how one couple decorated a termite mound to look like a popular emoji. Those who are familiar with this story likely consider the couple’s mound art to be an example of a highly unusual form of artistic expression. After all, how often have you heard of people dedicating their time to decorating termite mounds? Probably not often, right? Well, that may soon change, as many artistically minded Aussies are beginning to apply their own personal aesthetic to numerous termite mounds within the country.

If you think that this modern artistic phenomena is odd, then you are not alone. It goes without saying that the practice of decorating termite mounds is unusual, but a Charles Darwin University visual arts PhD candidate, Ian Hance, believes that this increasingly popular activity is worthy of academic attention on account of its strangeness. Hance has dedicated much of his time to painting portraits of these decorated mounds. Soon, Hance’s paintings will be exhibited at an outdoor location near the historic World War II storage tunnels near Fort Hill Dwarf in Darwin. Hance chose to paint, what he considered to be, the most interesting and carefully crafted of the many decorated termite mounds.

While traveling along the vast stretches of highway within Northern Australia it is impossible not to notice the many termite mounds that are displayed across the countryside. This location has been the most popular site for termite mound artists, if you will. Residents of the Katherine region have made a tradition out of decorating termite mounds to look like Santa Claus every year around Christmas. However, holiday-themed termite mounds are in the minority, as most artists have taken to decorating the mounds with anything from lingerie to certain work uniforms. Some of the mounds are outfitted with military uniforms, while others are adorned with nothing more than work hats and sombreros. According to Hance, there are a variety of reasons to explain people’s motivation to decorate termite mounds. In some cases, boredom is the primary motivation, but other artists are using termite mounds as a sort of canvass for expressing political statements.

Would you be interested in seeing some of the ways in which artists have decorated termite mounds?