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Reviews/Film/Perth Festival/Visual Art

Dancing his drawings to life

4 March 2021

Disciplines collide in ‘YEDI / SONGS from Patrick William Carter’ to create a joyful retrospective of the artist’s work, reports Michelle White.

‘YEDI / SONGS from Patrick William Carter’, Patrick Carter, Perth Festival ·
Perth Institute of Contemporary Arts, 25 February, 2021 ·

Perth-based Noongar artist Patrick William Carter has long been inspired by the close relationships he has developed with West Australian artists and practitioners from a range of disciplines, including dance, visual arts and video/film.

He credits numerous artists as collaborators on the six video installations that comprise his joyful exhibition “YEDI / SONGS from Patrick William Carter”, in particular director, writer and choreographer Sam Fox and independent producer and consultant Simone Flavelle. The resulting exhibition is a celebration of Carter’s multidisciplinary work over the past eight years, using movement, video, sound, drawing and painting to tell his stories.

Stepping into an upper-level gallery at PICA, you’re immediately immersed in Carter’s world. Videos are projected on three walls, each a presentation of Carter’s most central influences – his family, culture and experiences of life as a strong, proud black man and disability advocate. Videos Bloom #1, Bloom #2, and Bloom #3 (made in collaboration with Laura Boynes, Lincoln McKinnon, Deborah May, Robert Eades) take us on a very personal journey from hospital back to country and culture. It was interesting to see Carter’s use of painted surgical face masks feature so prominently in these works given they were made in 2017 and 2018, a few years before masks would become common objects in our Covid-affected world.

It is in a fourth video work, Wind – which was commissioned by Perth Festival and made in collaboration with Sam Fox, Sam Price, Rachel Arianne Ogle, and Roly Skender – that Carter really gets to show off his versatility. He sings, he plays guitar, he hits the drums, he paints and, with sweeping movements of his arms, he dances his drawings to life.

Visitors to Perth’s Yagan Square may be familiar with Carter’s characteristic danced drawings, which are regularly screened on the square’s giant digital tower. His hands “paint” larger-than-life digital strokes of colour, apparently out of thin air. When each choreographed drawing is done, Carter gives a dramatic swoosh, wiping the screen clean to start again as if erasing a giant Etch A Sketch. His intensity is hypnotic to watch.

“YEDI / SONGS” is an important retrospective of Carter’s collaborative practice and an insight into his creative journey. It’s worth popping in to the gallery to spend time sitting and reflecting and appreciating how important it is that art and creativity are accessible to us all.

‘Songs from Patrick William Carter’ is on at PICA until Sunday, 18 April 2021.

Pictured top is an image from ‘YEDI / SONGS from Patrick William Carter’, 2021, installation at PICA. Photo: Cole Baxter


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Author —
Michelle White

Michelle White is a Yamatji storyteller with more than 30 years writing and producing for televison, radio, print and online. She has extensive experience working in the arts and currently serves as Partnerships and Platforming Manager for Community Arts Network. Favourite part of the playground? The flying fox or wherever the food is!

Past Articles

  • Stories of survival

    Curated by Glenn Iseger-Pilkington ‘nyinalanginy / the gathering’ is a thoughtful and provocative exhibition of works by First Nations people of the Indo-Pacific region, writes Michelle White.

  • Tales from the riverbank

    Michelle White, a river kid raised in Mandoon (Guildford), says Witness Stand has much to tell us about the Noongar culture of the Derbarl Yerrigan, and she finally discovers why the Devil’s Elbow was out of bounds.

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