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 this Friday, 11 March 2022, at The Art Gallery of Western Australia.
The show is a collaboration between Western Australian non-profit arts and cultural organisation FORM; The Art Gallery of Western Australia; Aboriginal art centres Cheeditha Art Group, Juluwarlu Art Group, Martumili Artists, Spinifex 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.
“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.”—Yindjibarndi artist Barngyi (Pansy) Cheedy from Juluwarlu Art Group
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 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,” said FORM’s CEO Tabitha McMullan.
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.”—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.
“Through support from the State Government’s RETB program, we are delighted to show this exhibition; a fitting culmination and recognition of the outstanding level of artistic development throughout the Pilbara region,” said Colin Walker, Director of The Art Gallery of Western Australia, adding “We hope this remarkable exhibition will be one of many pivotal artistic moments in the life of the communities who have contributed.”
The exhibition will be accompanied by a learning resource for teachers, as well as digital content, details of which will be released soon. Sign up for updates at www.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 28 August 2022.
“That ngurra [home, Country] coming is strong. That each and every one of us have an individual language that represents art so we’ve gotta put that together. Ngurra is the most important one because it represents each and every one of us but each one got a different language about how I do my art and what art means to me.”—Allery Sandy, Yinjaa-Barni Art