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Tracks We Share: Contemporary Art of the Pilbara

Tracks We Share: Contemporary Art of the Pilbara celebrates the Aboriginal artists and artwork of Western Australia’s Pilbara region in a landmark exhibition opening to the public on 11 March 2022 at The Art Gallery of Western Australia.

The show is a collaboration between Western Australian non-profit arts and cultural organisation FORMThe Art Gallery of Western Australia; Aboriginal art centres Cheeditha Art GroupJuluwarlu Art GroupMartumili ArtistsSpinifex Hill Studio, and Yinjaa-Barni Art; and independent artists Katie West, Curtis Taylor, and Jill Churnside.

Tracks We Share: Contemporary Art of the Pilbara brings together more than 70 artists and over 200 artworks. This extraordinary body of work features the most exciting contemporary art coming out of the region while paying homage to the legacy that has informed it, offering a rare and broad-reaching insight into the region’s artistic output over the years.

Yindjibarndi artist Barngyi (Pansy) Cheedy from Juluwarlu Art Group said,“It’s a lot of people coming together, sharing. Different areas have different vibes about their artwork. So I’m from this area [Yindjibarndi Country], I paint different to someone from maybe the Western Desert. Coming together and putting all these artworks together is bringing us together and sharing the knowledge. You can yarn about the story in your artworks. So for a place like the Pilbara, art is very vital, where everyone is there to share their stories. For that’s what art is. Sharing your stories through your artwork.”

The exhibition is one of the final stages in a multi-year project which has documented the context and development of the artmaking practices that are a key way the Pilbara’s Aboriginal communities share, sustain and celebrate culture. The project maps the breadth of the region’s diverse creative practice and honours the unique space the Pilbara’s Aboriginal artists have carved out amongst contemporary Australian art.

FORM’s CEO Tabitha McMullan elaborated on the context of the project, “FORM has been privileged to spend the past 15 years collaborating with the artists and art centres of the Pilbara, and we know first-hand what a truly world-class creative community resides here. Developed over more than three years, Tracks We Share will take audiences on a journey from the coast to the desert while paying homage to some of the iconic artists, past and present, who have driven the Pilbara’s art movement. It presents a long-overdue showcase of the extraordinary artistic diversity of the Pilbara region, and we are beyond excited to share it with new audiences.” 

The title of the exhibition was devised by a group of the exhibiting artists and references the many language groups and diverse Country of the Pilbara, while acknowledging the physical, cultural and artistic tracks that connect them all.

“It’s the footstep that is passed down from history. As the Pilbara, we are all doing that. It’s a journey, that road, all as one. Cause that yiwarra [track] is for you and me,” said Martu artist and member of the Tracks We Share Cultural Advisory Committee, Heather Samson from Martumili Artists.

The core of the exhibition is a spectacular selection of the stunning acrylic paintings for which the region’s art movement is primarily known, accompanied by works on paper, installations, film, animation, photographs, sculptures, and carvings. Together, the works highlight the immense artistic diversity that exists within the region, spanning a gamut of styles while referencing ancient knowledge and modern events. 

The Tracks We Share project has encompassed consultation, artwork development, artistic commissions, artistic residencies, and professional development. Extensive project documentation will be shared in the form of a publication which will provide insight into the artists, places, creative processes, Country, and stories behind the art. 

Tracks We Share was initiated by FORM in collaboration with the participating artists and art centres. The project has been funded by part of the $8 million Regional Exhibition Touring Boost (RETB), administered by the Department of Local Government, Sport and Cultural Industries and supported by the Department of Primary Industries and Regional Development, The Art Gallery of Western Australia and Art on the Move. This funding boost is designed to increase arts activities in Western Australia’s regions. FORM has been supported in the development of the project  by BHP, the Pilbara Development Commission, Lotterywest, the Australia Council for the Arts, the Australian Government’s Indigenous Visual Arts Industry Support program, Woodside-operated Pluto LNG Project, the City of Karratha and the Town of Port Hedland.

The exhibition will be accompanied by a public program of events and an education kit, details of which will be released in the coming months. Sign up for updates at tracksweshare.com.au.

Tracks We Share: Contemporary Art of the Pilbara is on public display at The Art Gallery of Western Australia from 11 March 2022 to 29 August 2022.

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Acknowledgement of Country

Wherever and whenever we walk, we acknowledge and pay our respects to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people as the Traditional Custodians and Owners of the land.