Reviews/Visual Art

An exhibition that will ignite your liyarn

7 June 2023

You’ll want more than one visit to absorb the invigorating array of art works by Aboriginal artists, on display in this year’s iteration of Revealed at Fremantle Arts Centre, says Savannah Travia-Dann.

Revealed, various artists
Fremantle Arts Centre

A work from Revealed that is made out of a piece of tree trunk or a large branch, with a snaking line etched on it.
Cynthia Burke carefully guides and shapes pieces of tree trunk and branches, as Elders have done so lovingly throughout the generations. Pictured is her work ‘Kapi Punungka | Water in the Wood’, 2023, Muur-muurpa | Desert Bloodwood. Photo supplied

Packed, as always, with works from new and emerging artists, the 2023 Revealed exhibition ignites a fire in your liyarn (spirit) by inviting you to view Country through an Aboriginal lens.

This year’s iteration of Revealed features more than 200 works by over 100 Aboriginal artists from all over Western Australia and beyond, selected by a panel that included Ron Bradfield (Bardi Peoples), Sharyn Egan (Whadjuk Nyoongar Peoples), Jessyca Hutchens (Palyku Peoples) and Glenn Iseger-Pilkington (Nhanda & Nyoongar Peoples) – also the exhibition’s curator.

Entering the gallery from the south door, you are greeted by Ballardong Noongar artist Enid Kickett’s work Enimo (2022-23), a series of numerous immaculately and intricately painted paper plates that make Country come alive before your eyes. The plate rims form perfect frames, in colours that pop against the landscapes contained within, reminding the viewer of the wonders of Country throughout the seasons.

As you walk into the Wardong Gallery, the room comes alive with an impressive range of works. There is something particularly moving about the wooden painted sculptures by Ngaanyatjarra artists Cynthia Burke and Lena Dawson. These two artists use Country as a canvas, gently and carefully guiding and shaping pieces of tree trunk and branches, as Elders have done so lovingly throughout the generations. In her didactic panel, Burke speaks about the way trees look after us, and of the reciprocal relationships we – as Aboriginal people – have always had.

A glass work from Revealed - it's a cylinder of kaleidoscopic colour, blues, greens and yellows, interspersed with a dark rusty colour.
Jewel bright colours in Sharon Warrie’s ‘Melting Pot’, 2023, glass. Photo supplied

Browsing the Wardong Gallery, Yindjibarndi/Kariyarra artist Sharon Warrie’s glass works caught my eye, glimmering in the sun streaming in from the nearby window. Making work about dreamtime stories and ochre used in ceremony, Warrie captures the vivid colours of both in her jewel-bright sculptures.

Just 18 years old and self-taught, Ava Christopher is a Yindjibarndi woman whose duo of boldly coloured acrylic paintings of two angled figures dancing – one by day, the other by night – left me in awe. Titled Dreamtime Dancing (2023), both works emanate heat; you can feel the embers from the fire in one, while the red earth radiates in the other.

Eerie colours give a ghostly feel to the Country depicted in Tree down by the stream in Gosnells (2023), an acrylic painting by Noongar/Yamaji Wadjari Elder Valerie Woods. It feels as if the Country is holding the essence of the Elders that walked before them. The texture of the paperbark Woods has used lures the viewer closer, to see details that may be missed from afar.

Created by an artist credited as “Nyungar Artist”, Always was Always will Be Nyungar Boodjar (2023) is an acrylic on canvas work with a ghostly feel (pictured top). The depiction of an almost transparent figure against the forefront of a neo-modernist cityscape that glows in shades of fiery orangey-red seems to be reminding us that the spirit of this Country is alive and strong, no matter what the current climate is.

A work from Revealed that looks like a stylised map of Perth. The river is depicted in bright blue, around it black tracks lead to symbols of plants and animals.
A detail from JD Penangke’s bold and striking mural ‘Waangkan | Talk’, 2023, synthetic polymer paint on wall and canvas. Photo: supplied

Beautifully positioned in the main foyer, Waangkan/Talk (2023) – a painted site-specific mural containing four works on canvas, by internationally renowned Whadjuk, Ballardong and Arrernte artist JD Penangke – feels like the perfect way to bookend Revealed. Bold and striking, the work is a map depicting the Derbal Yerrigan as the life force for Country, a bright blue ribbon snaking across the landscape. Penangke says Waangkan/Talk speaks to “the importance of [women’s] voices in our community locally and nationally.”

With so many works on display, offering an intoxicating array of perspectives and stories, the 2023 Revealed exhibition will sustain you over multiple visits.

Revealed continues at Fremantle Arts Centre until 23 July 2023.

Pictured top: Nyungar Artist, ‘Always Was Always Will Be Nyungar Boodjar’, 2023, acrylic on canvas. Photo supplied

Like what you're reading? Support Seesaw.

Photo: Fremantle City Council/ Fre-Oh Magazine

Author —
Savannah Travia-Dann

Emerging critic Savannah Travia Dann is a young Saltwater woman. A Nyul Nyul visual artist and poet from Winawaal Country she has ties to Kija, Bunuba, Nyikina, Mangala, Bardi, Jaru and Walmatjarri language groups. Savannah paints from a spiritual perspective, weaving stories with intricacies that may be missed when observing the world through society’s lens. Savannah enjoys the versatility of the monkey bars, which hold great memories of her childhood. Photo: Fremantle City Council/ Fre-Oh Magazine

Past Articles

  • Photographers’ hearts held by Country

    If you’re craving a taste of the Kimberley, New Voices in Australian Photography will transport you there, with works from four emerging First Nations artists, writes Savannah Travia-Dann.

Read Next

  • Just what the doctor ordered

    Just what the doctor ordered

    29 September 2023

    Dr AudiYO uses vocal gymnastics to take the audience on a fun adventure. Junior reviewers Jackson and Chloe Davis are happy to take this prescription. 

    Reading time • 3 minutesTheatre
  • Seadragon weaves magic spell

    Seadragon weaves magic spell

    28 September 2023

    The Magical Weedy Seadragon enchants junior reviewer Isabel Greentree with a winning blend of story, song and humour.   

    Reading time • 4 minutesMulti-arts
  • Lifting the weight of the world

    Lifting the weight of the world

    28 September 2023

    Junior reviewers Jackson and Chloe Davis are taken on a thoughtful and funny journey to the Moon with one overwhelmed girl.

    Reading time • 4 minutesTheatre

Cleaver Street Studio

Cleaver Street Studio


Cleaver Street Studio