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Reviews/Visual Art

Stories of family, country and culture

9 April 2018

Review: “Revealed Exhibition: New and emerging WA Aboriginal artists” ·
Fremantle Arts Centre ·
Review by Miranda Johnson ·

Fremantle Arts Centre’s “Revealed Exhibition” showcases the richness and diversity of Aboriginal art in Western Australia. Held every year, it provides an opportunity for art centres and organisations from all around WA to exhibit a wide range of works, demonstrating their talent and skill whilst also accessing the keen market of Perth buyers. This allows for direct engagement between artists and audiences, meaning that visitors can hear first-hand stories as well as purchase works directly from the artist and art centres, both from the exhibition and at the hugely popular “Revealed” art market in the Fremantle Arts Centre courtyard. Taken together, it’s an amazing feat, both of art-making and of putting together an exhibition.

The exhibition can, at first, feel overwhelming, as the rooms are full of work. However, ultimately it’s very accessible, with gallery labels providing information about the artist/s, a map of where they are from, and an artist statement about the work. It’s very easy to get lost in the works and stories – this exhibition is one that takes time, but will reward you for it. Each room is carefully considered, with the art works occasionally interacting with one another rather than just placed side by side, telling new stories as well as old. Many of the works are made by collectives, such as the Tjanpi Desert Weavers, a social initiative run by the Ngaanyatjarra Pitjantjatjara Yankunytjatjara (NPY) Women’s Council and created to enable women in remote central deserts to earn their own income from fibre art. Not just an art-making project, but a community enterprise, this venture typifies the spirit of “Revealed” as a project that is more than just an exhibition, but a community institution.

The running theme of the show is essentially that of artists telling their own stories, which are often about family, country and culture. This theme runs through the exhibition, but the exhibition itself is incredibly diverse, expanding any stereotypical notions of what Aboriginal art might look like. It’s never just one type of art practice, but many – paintings on canvas or on textiles, video and sound art, etchings on steel, carved pieces of Eucalyptus and boab, and woven sculptures. The layers of art-making and storytelling are neatly woven through the exhibition, linking thematically as well as through generations of family and community. The variety of works as well as the range of backgrounds, experiences, and voices is engaging, interesting, and visually stunning.

“Revealed Exhibition” runs until May 20.

Pictured top: Patsy Mudgedell, Dogs on edge (detail), 2018, gouache, colour texta and black fineliner on cartridge paper, 29.7 x 42cm.

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Author —
Miranda Johnson

Miranda Johnson is a curator and writer who has worked for various contemporary arts institutions, co-founded Cool Change Contemporary and co-hosts Fem Book Club at the Centre for Stories. Miranda’s favourite aspect of the playground is getting the chance to meet as many dogs as possible.

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