Desert River Sea: Kimberley Art Then & Now stems from the Art Gallery of Western Australia’s (AGWA) strong desire to work with Indigenous peoples in new, engaging and mutually beneficial ways. Galleries and museums around Australia have for a number of decades developed a model of working with, and displaying the culture and creative material of, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people. While such models have been instrumental in educating and celebrating these unique living cultures, they possess their own distinct set of limitations. Through the development of a model that specifically responds to the desires and aspirations of Indigenous art-makers throughout the Kimberley region of Western Australia, AGWA hopes to transform the way it connects with Indigenous Australia.
Through ongoing engagement with the Kimberley’s diverse art-making communities, AGWA has worked with artists, art centres and arts workers to develop a rich and comprehensive online portal which celebrates the visual traditions of the Indigenous peoples of this region.
The Desert River Sea Visual Arts Leadership Program, of which the first session took place in Perth over several days in October 2013, will assist in the development of professional skills for arts workers and foster new opportunities for its participants.
The Desert River Sea: Kimberley Art Then & Now project will conclude with a major exhibition of art, craft and cultural artifacts, and will be the first of its kind in over two decades. It will celebrate the art of the Kimberley region, its rich Indigenous cultures, its dynamic and breathtaking landscape and the cultural narratives which tell of its creation, its custodians and the peoples who call this country home.