Q&A with Emilia Galatis, Revealed 2017 Coordinator
Desert River Sea tracked down Emilia Galatis, Revealed Coordinator, for a chat about the recent 2017 event.
DRS: It’s quite a trek for some remote art centres to get to Perth, especially when you throw into the mix the added challenges of unpredictable weather and road conditions – have you heard any wild travel adventure stories from the attendees this year?
EG: Yes! I guess there are always wild travel stories but to the art centres this is just everyday life. Travelling for over two days on rough roads for hundreds of kilometers with multiple artists to Perth is a wild story in itself. This year however, everyone seemed to make it in one piece. Tjarlirli Art drove the whole way to Perth which I think is wild! They drove close to 2000 km from Tjukurla community in the Ngaanyatjarra lands in Western desert to Perth.
DRS: With the emphasis on emerging artists at Revealed, there’s always an added frisson of excitement in the air around ‘first time’ exposure for some artists in an exhibition context – How many of these artists would you say go on to pursue a career in art making?
EG: Most of these artists engage with the art centre in some way so I would say most of them go on to pursue some kind of career in the arts weather that be art making, curating or in arts worker roles. Art making now is a broad concept as evidenced in the exhibition for 2017 encompassing fashion, textiles, digital arts, sculpture, poetry as well as painting.
DRS: 24 artists from the Kimberley were showcased in the exhibition this year – Hanging alongside works by urban artists, do you find that audiences are sometimes surprised at the variety, media, and the provocative, humorous, political, clever and charismatic expression of remote artists?
EG: We try to curate and shape the exhibition to do exactly that! Showcasing the diversity and variety is something that Revealed is very good at. The natural differences in content and medium are embraced by the public indicative in this year’s sales and attendance. I am honestly so lucky to be a part of showcasing the work of such brave and interesting new artists who are taking greater risks and having louder voices.
DRS: The art market day is the highlight of the program for some, last year’s market at the new venue Fremantle Arts Centre had an excellent visitor attendance – How did it go this year?
EG: We had a similar amount of people through the gates however; they spent a lot more money. Art centres were really busy in the morning. We also had two book launches in 2017 during the market; Magabala books and UWA Press.
DRS: Tell us about the Aboriginal artist-led conversation whose speakers included Leah Umbagai (from Mowanjum) and Mervyn Street (from Fitzroy Crossing) – What insights did they offer into the ever-changing nature of artistic expression?
EG: They were really the highlight for me. They gave people unique insights into an industry that lies hidden most of the time.
DRS: Social media is undoubtedly a valuable tool for brand building and business offering art centres new opportunities for promotion. This year’s professional development program included an Instagram workshop – What was the response to this by artists and art centres and in your opinion have art centres been taking advantage of social media?
EG: It was great! We have had some really positive feedback and a new hash tag for WA art has been created and Instagram community. Check out @WAartmob and #waartmob
DRS: The artist workshops offered this year were varied, Sand animation, drawing, ceramics, lino-cut design and print, photography, fashion. Last year the skills development program was particularly embraced by Ribnga Green, Clifton Gugaman and Azman Manguri from Balgo. They so relished the life drawing and clay stop-motion animation workshops that they asked the trainer to return for additional one-on-one tuition – What was the most popular this year?
EG: I think everyone was very evenly spaced this year but the results were incredible. Ceramics and lino cut I think were the most popular.
DRS: There seems to be a current interest in the art centre scene towards textile design and fashion, certainly in the Kimberley the textile movement is thriving. Showcasing the fashion designs from the workshop at the Symposium was a great idea – Tell us about it?
EG: We had a great response to Grace Lillian Lee, she was a total highlight of the program and the Mangkaja artists worked very closely with her. Peter Farmer showcased Nyoongar fashion and intergenerational projects as well. Everyone had a great time and that was evidenced in the performance.
DRS: With events like these coordinators seem to exemplify the ‘the swan effect’ (above the water all is serene, calm and collected but below the water legs are kicking furiously to make things happen) - Any amusing behind-the-scenes anecdotes you’re willing to share with us?
EG: Hahaha I won’t be very popular if I do BUT I can say that the industry is changing rapidly and art centre managers are busier than ever. However, the real issue for me is the other community services and until they function to support the artist business, art centres will always feel like they have to do everything.
DRS: Thank you Emilia for answering our questions and congratulations on delivering by all accounts another tremendous Revealed event! The relevant and supportive nature of the program adds to its success, the popularity of Revealed, both with art centres and audiences, is a real positive sign for the Aboriginal art industry. There are multiple good reasons why Revealed is regarded by many as the highlight of the annual WA Aboriginal Art calendar of events.
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