17/06/2010 - 00:00

Making the remote mainstream

17/06/2010 - 00:00

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DIFFICULT as it may be for Western Australian artists to use Perth as a launching pad for a career on the international stage, the challenge is even greater for those in remote and regional communities.

DIFFICULT as it may be for Western Australian artists to use Perth as a launching pad for a career on the international stage, the challenge is even greater for those in remote and regional communities.

In the past five years, however, things have been looking up for remote artists with the introduction of Artsource’s Regional and Indigenous Development Program or as it is more affectionately known, Artist Mob.

Artist Mob aims to create mainstream opportunities for remote artists.

“The artist mob program was built initially to provide support for indigenous artists because it was quite clear there was a big gap across the state in how indigenous artists were connected to mainstream opportunity,” Artist Mob manager Ron Bradfield Jnr told WA Business News.

The reason for that gap is simple.

“Predominantly because the processes are just something that a lot of people out there in regional and remote areas don’t understand,” he said.

Artist Mob organises workshops in regional areas, provides studio space to artists with studios in Perth, creates mentoring opportunities for artists, and consults with artists on the practice of art as a business.

“It is really important that indigenous artists learn how to do simple things like put their name and date on their art work, take a photo of it and write down its details,” Bradfield said.

“We talk to Aboriginal artists about them ensuring they have a will for themselves, because in WA the law is such that in my family, if I was to die, my son could not claim any of my assets as a next of kin, he would have to go through the public trust,” Mr Bradfield said.

“My role is largely about yarning with artists,” he said, commenting on the amount of travel he commits as his one-man-band of support for Aboriginal artists.

The program also aims to have indigenous artists and their work be recognised not just as tourist souvenirs but legitimate fine art.

As Mr Bradfield pointed out, Aboriginal artists’ work is often labelled ‘traditional’ – a category that limits not only the individual but also artists who are attempting to create a career in contemporary art.

“They need to be treated as mainstream artists, rather than just be tagged as just an Aboriginal artist,” Mr Bradfield said.

“That may well suit some Aboriginal artists should they go down that path of painting or producing art works for sale as touristy souvenirs, but Aboriginal artists should be treated as any other artist.”

Since Artsource developed Artist Mob in 2005, the program has grown from hosting five workshops and aiding 68 individual artists to last year holding 18 workshops and working with 259 artists.

While the program has ongoing financial support from Rio Tinto for its projects in the Shire of Roebourne and general funding support from Healthway and Relationships Australia, Mr Bradfield said funding was the perennial issue for the program.

“Like anyone else who is subject to funding, be it government or private, we are subject to the climate of that particular [government’s] period,” he said.

 

STANDING BY BUSINESS. TRUSTED BY BUSINESS.

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