A team of talented young indigenous artists has brought colour to the walls of a retail space in Watertown, owned by Lendlease, with the opening of a new gallery led by 21-year-old Noongar man Peter Farmer Jnr.
A team of talented young indigenous artists has brought colour to the walls of a retail space in Watertown, managed by Lendlease, with the opening of a new gallery led by 21-year-old Noongar man Peter Farmer Jnr.
The opportunity to move into the vacant space, free of charge, arose thanks to Activate Perth’s ‘Fill this Space’ initiative, which seeks to match vacant properties with early-stage or creative enterprises that could otherwise not afford the rent.
The gallery name, Chirriger Dreaming, meaning ‘splendid blue wren’, represents Mr Farmer’s cultural totem on his father’s side.
Being the son of respected artist Peter Farmer (Snr), Mr Farmer said he’d been influenced and supported by his parents and was excited to be able to showcase his work in a retail environment.
“I’ve been doing art before I could even write my name and have been doing it professionally since high school,” Mr Farmer told Business News.
Mr Farmer has created a number of publicly commissioned works that can be found across the state, including a sculpture at Bilya Kard Boodja Lookout in Ascot, which depicts the food sources the Derbarl Yerrigan (Swan River) has to offer and the six seasons of the Noongar culture.
Today, Mr Farmer primarily works with acrylics to paint detailed canvases using the traditional Noongar lines that he learned from his grandfather.
“I don’t do dots, because I’m not from the higher regions of Western Australia,” Mr Farmer said.
He said indigenous line work represented the traditional tracks found in the South West, most of which have now been made into roads.
They could also depict the journey through life and representations of country, such as the Stirling Ranges.
While indigenous communities in the north-west depict sun lines, water lines are unique to the south given the large number of water catchments in the region.
Mr Farmer said some of the younger artists were beginning to deliver a contemporary take on the water lines, manipulating paint to create a running effect, while the gallery would be a way to communicate different styles with a public audience.
“It’s a way for people to really gain a bit more knowledge, not just about individual artists but about indigenous culture itself,” he said.
“We have a pretty amazing culture in my opinion and a lot of people I communicate with, they don’t know as much as they think they do or quite understand everything behind our culture, but at the same time they want to know.
“So something like this gives us the ability to show people our art and culture and talk to people about it.”
Activate Perth said the artists’ collective was the ideal tenancy to trial the program, considering many visitors to Perth were seeking authentic experiences of indigenous culture.
“I don’t know what’s going to happen next but I’m excited to be able to show my art and take different avenues that come,” Mr Farmer said.