28/11/2006 - 21:00

Indigenous skills focus

28/11/2006 - 21:00

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A five-way partnership between the Art Gallery of WA, Curtin Uni-versity and three mining companies has been recognised for its contribution to arts development in WA.

Indigenous skills focus

A five-way partnership between the Art Gallery of WA, Curtin Uni-versity and three mining companies has been recognised for its contribution to arts development in WA.

The consortium has created a three-year indigenous curatorial graduate program, held between Curtin University and the art gallery.

Art Gallery of WA partnership manager Josephine Tanham said the program was developed to address a chronic skills shortage.

“The logic behind it was that the gallery recognised that in terms of indigenous curators, there weren’t enough candidates across Australia,” she said. “We realised that we needed somebody who had trained at undergraduate level.”

The chosen candidate was Chad Creighton, an artist and fine arts graduate from the University of Western Australia, who began the program earlier this year and will graduate in 2008.

Mr Creighton spends two days a week studying a post-graduate degree in cultural heritage studies at Curtin University and three days assisting Clotilde Bullen, the gallery’s associate curator indigenous art, giving presentations and conducting tours of the gallery for indigenous school groups.

A school tour in the Western Desert region is planned for next year, with Mr Creighton and Ms Bullen planning to visit employees of the partner organisations and residents of the local communities.

Ms Tanham said the gallery would like to continue running the program in future years, with a long-term view to becoming a gallery specialising in indigenous curatorial development.

She sais that, given the national shortage of indigenous art curators, Mr Creighton would be in high demand upon graduation.

“We acknowledge the possibility that Chad may leave us in the future…but it’s part of our obligation to the wider cultural network,” she said.

Curtin University was the nominated university for the partnership, given its established program in post-graduate heritage and cultural studies.

AngloGold Ashanti Australia assisted the gallery with funding and forging relationships with other mining companies, having previously partnered the gallery on a program to recruit an educational officer.

Privately owned indigenous company, Carey Mining, offered a mixture of in-kind support and funding, as well as providing an important mentoring avenue, while Roche contributed additional funding and support from its HR department. 

Ms Tanham said that, with all three of the mining companies operating in the Western Desert region, the program provided an opportunity to support indigenous communities locally, to add value and provide a cultural commitment.

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