East Kimberley Field Trip, Oct 2014

AGWA’s Desert River Sea; Kimberley Art Then & Now teamed up with Indigenous Community Stories in October for a jam-packed 2 week field trip to the spectacular East Kimberley region. With the aim of mapping and recording current and emerging Kimberley Aboriginal art practices on film, the partnership saw Desert River Sea Project Support Officer, Geraldine Henrici and the Indigenous Community Stories film crew, led by the very talented Indigenous Director, Jub Clerc, interview artists from Waringarri Aboriginal Arts, Warmun Art Centre and Yarlyil Art Centre.  Artists recalled their lives, the stories of their art, artistic careers and their relationship with the art centres profiled. We were truly privileged to be welcomed so warmly by the artists at their art centres and on country and to hear and record these captivating, powerful, sometimes tragic, sometimes hilarious and always significant stories.

Background to the DRS/ICS partnership:

The Art Gallery of Western Australia (AGWA) and The Film & Television Institute (FTI) decided to team up as both arts institutions currently run programs designed to assist WA’s Indigenous people preserve and maintain ownership of their culture.

FTI’s Indigenous Community Stories is supported by founding partner ScreenWest, principal partner Rio Tinto and partner Leighton Contracting and uses high-definition digital video technology and professional film crews to create and preserve detailed records of the cultural practices and important historical accounts of WA’s Indigenous people.

Both the Desert River Sea program and Indigenous Community Stories are significant in that they employ strict cultural protocols, copyright and IP management principles to ensure the Indigenous artists / story owners retain all rights to their work or recordings. The separate projects also share the intent to archive the cultural collateral for the use of future generations. Each interview collection will create 8-10 hours of footage, which will be archived at AITSIS in Canberra, FTI in the State Library of WA, and copies sent to the artist’s community.

FTI CEO, Paul Bodlovich said the partnership would help increase the profile of both Indigenous initiatives and bring many benefits to the participants.

“Since its inception in 2008, ICS has recorded 65 stories, and is on track to reach a benchmark of 100 stories by the end of 2016. Through this partnership, FTI will be able to connect with more Indigenous communities in the Kimberly region to record their stories to be passed onto future generations’.

Lynne Hargreaves, AGWA Director of Exhibitions & Collections, agreed that the pilot program would bring together the two institutions with different organisational strengths and common goals.

Desert River Sea is the most significant Indigenous visual arts and cultural project undertaken by AGWA. The project’s present focus is on documenting the region’s current and emerging arts practice for sharing through desertriversea.com.au. This pilot program will enable AGWA to capture and celebrate the region’s culture in a very accessible, high quality visual format.”