Nyoongar artists have opened an exhibition of their work at the Artists Revolution Gallery in Northam. Artists Revolution is a not for profit arts group designed for artists to promote and sell their art in Northam. The project is co-ordinated by artist and facilitator Patricia Rose. She has lived in Northam for seventeen years. Patricia formed a close bond with the Nyoongar community when her daughter made friends with several Nyoongar children at the local kindergarten. Patricia explains how the artists group came together.
“It’s taken years. I’ve done lots of different art projects in the community. I’ve worked with different people in those different projects. Most of the artists in this exhibition are all people I’ve got to know while working together on other projects.
This exhibition is a bringing together of all the indigenous artists who I’ve connected with here. We’ve got quite a variety of work. Thomas Garlett in particular does a lot of representational, symbolic narrative using a lot of dot painting, in which he sort permission from traditional painters in the Midwest region. Ordinarily Nyoongar people are not permitted to do dot painting according to some of the Nyoongar elders though some have incorporated this genre creating a Namatji style. This is the mixing of Nyoongar and Yamatji, which is represented in the works of Iris Guilmartin who is Namatji and her son Vaughn Lane.
Landscape artists such as Russell Fitzgerald, Kevin Giles, John Blurton and Adie-Lee Ware are artists that have been influenced of the Carrolup Mission style that is often seen in prison art and continues to influence many Nyoongar and Yamatji art.
Paintings by Kimberly Sprat I find particularly interesting because of his use of animals and symbolic patterning to tell a story. He also paints a unique style of landscape, which is so full of life that you can almost feel the movement in the earth itself.
If I had to give an overall description of the exhibition I’d say it will inspire emotion that will in turn reconnect us to our roots, which is in the land and nature. You can feel a great energy in the works.
The Artists Revolution studio gallery is available for people to come and work. We supply the materials. People can get involved and be close to the community. It’s all about bringing everyone together so that they can work together. It is about creating a general sense of wellbeing and an undivided community.
I love seeing people happy and this has become a very social place. I like to work with young people. We keep them occupied and busy. People bring their work in. All the artists are constantly walking around looking at everyone else’s art and absorbing the other work.
People tell each other stories and it definitely gives them a pride in themselves and what they’re doing. It’s an expression of culture and of themselves. They can see the other people expressing themselves and then that creates an understanding of other parts in the community. Indigenous artists work alongside non-indigenous artists and that helps strengthen connections in our whole community.
There is definitely a benefit that comes from people getting to know each other in several projects over a number of years. I sometimes put people together who I know may have had some issues in the past. By working side by side on an art project these things tend to get worked through. I love being part of that.”
The exhibition of Nyoongar art runs at Artists Revolution Gallery until March 26th at 226 Fitzgerald St, Northam.