30/09/2010 - 00:00

Understanding artistic impact

30/09/2010 - 00:00

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Walking through the foyer of Central Park this week surrounded by Pilbara art, it is easy to get lost in the colour and not realise the impact exhibitions like Colours of Our Country have on the artists involved.

Understanding artistic impact

Walking through the foyer of Central Park this week surrounded by Pilbara art, it is easy to get lost in the colour and not realise the impact exhibitions like Colours of Our Country have on the artists involved.

The now annual exhibition, which started out as a one-off celebration of Rio Tinto’s 40-year anniversary, showcases indigenous art from the northern region of Western Australia.

Of course there are benefits for Rio – the prominent position of the exhibition and the brand awareness – but after speaking with several artists from different art groups in the Pilbara, it is evident the benefits for the artists are equal to those of the mining giant.

Having an opportunity to expose their talents in a major metropolis has had positive cultural, sociological and health impacts for the indigenous people engaged in Colours, not to mention the $1 million that has gone straight into their pockets.

Yindjibandi elder and artist Allery Sandy said the Colours exhibition has had an impact on the young women at a community level within Roebourne, where Ms Sandy sits as chairperson of the Yinjaa-Barni Artists Group.

“With young mums I see a lot of changes from drinking to what they are doing now. It has made them strong in who they are, and strong in caring for their children,” Ms Sandy said.

She said the group is now like a family and they encourage each other to develop their painting skills, efforts that are helped with the sale of their work and appreciation from buyers.

“When you get feedback from people who buy the art, you think ‘Oh yeah they love my art, I’ll do some more’, it makes you continue, it makes you feel good and encourages you,” Ms Sandy said.

“It makes me feel really good inside, to go back and tell my art group [that their art sold]. You can see the joy in their face when I get back, the first thing they say is ‘Mum did I sell my painting?’.

“It makes them proud to be doing that, to say ‘I did that and I earned that’.”

Loreen Samson, a Ngarluma woman who is part of the Roebourne Art Group, said having her specific culture represented in the exhibition was the greatest benefit of being involved, as it is a chance to create distinction between the cultures within the Roebourne shire.

Ms Samson said every tribe’s story is different, and for members of the Roebourne Art Group, exhibiting their glasswork is a way of telling their individual stories, as well as showing the younger generations the opportunities available to them.

“We have our young ones, we need to lead them along too. We are trying to open the eyes of our future generations, so they can see this is what we do, and we can show them how they can continue to keep on achieving things,” Ms Samson said.

The exhibition also creates opportunities outside of the Colours exhibition, with three glasswork pieces from the Roebourne Art Group set to be exhibited in the Art Gallery of Western Australia.

After gaining exposure at the Colours exhibition some of the women have had solo exhibitions in Perth and Sydney, including Marlene Harold from the Yindjaa-Barni Artists Group.

Doreen James, from Tom Price/Paraburdoo, who along with Tuesday Lockyer are in the minority of artists from inland Pilbara involved in the Colours exhibition, now has a piece of her work in the National Gallery in Canberra.

 

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