New Kimberley Artwork Commissions


Desert River Sea (DRS) alongside Kimberley Aboriginal arts centres are now working on new collaborative artworks which will form the heart of an Aboriginal art exhibition to go on display at the Art Gallery of WA in 2018.

These artworks and exhibition will mark the culmination of AGWA’s six-year Desert River Sea project. Artists from eight Kimberley art making communities will each submit a collaborative work for the exhibition reflecting the diversity of influences and art practice across the Kimberley.

Funding for the artwork commissions has been supported by the Australian Government through the Australia Council, its arts funding and advisory body.

Over the course of the project’s multiple field trips to art centres and interviews with artists, DRS has observed that artists enjoy working in a collaborative way as it allows greater participation and opportunities for inter-generational teaching, often resulting in artworks which hold particular socio-cultural and/or historical significance. In light of this, the new works will be predominantly collaborative pieces.

The artworks will be conceived via a culturally appropriate process involving senior artists and art centre management, designed to produce work reflective of each centre’s cultural priorities and contemporary concerns. The commissions allow the art centres and artists the opportunity and freedom to experiment beyond the dictates of the Indigenous art market and audience expectations. The exciting premise of this is that media, form and thematic direction are all firmly in the hands of the artists. This artist-led approach has been the cornerstone of the Desert River Sea strategy since its inception.

Working alongside art centre staff, the Desert River Sea team will closely follow the development of each artwork documenting the process through written and audiovisual records. They will also enlist the assistance of Kimberley Aboriginal Art Professionals who have been part of Desert River Sea’s Visual Arts Leadership Program (VALP). This group has a vital role in the project’s final stage, liaising between artists and AGWA, and applying the skills developed during leadership and practical workshops on art handling, gallery processes, storytelling and curation.

Desert River Sea: the exhibition will be on display at the Art Gallery of WA at the end of 2018. A major publication will also accompany the exhibition.

AGWA would also like to acknowledge the ongoing support from the project’s Principal partner Rio Tinto for their ongoing belief and investment in the value and legacy of this project.


Add your comment


There are no comments for this article