Desert River Sea: Portraits of the Kimberley opening events

‘Desert River Sea: Portraits of the Kimberley’ opens as part of the Perth Festival on Saturday 9 February with a day of artist talks, art demonstrations, cultural performances, and family activities and events from 10am to 5pm, celebrating the exhibition which brings together over 150 new and old works that reveal the many faces and features of contemporary Aboriginal art from the region. Made by more than 40 artists from six art centres and three independent artists, the commissions present as eight installations that are as diverse as much as they are alike. Each installation represents a different journey toward the same destination of individual and collective cultural expression, on show at the Art Gallery of Western Australia (AGWA) from 9 February to 27 May 2019.

Garry Sibosado, Aalingoon (Rainbow Serpent) (detail), 2018, ochre pigment on engraved pearl shell, thirty-four parts, 182 x 28cm (overall). Photograph: Michael Jalaru Torres at Kooljaman Beach, 2018. Courtesy the artist and Art Gallery of Western Australia

Many of the Kimberley artists will be at the gallery on opening day, demonstrating their art practice and speaking about their works. Darrell and Garry Sibosado will demonstrate the art of pearl shell carving. Eva and Ivy Nargoodah showcase bush-dying with natural materials, while Mowanjum Arts highlight ochre crushing and Wandjina rock art education. Mervyn Street of Mangkaja Arts will carve and shave a cowhide and Waringarri Aboriginal Arts will demonstrate boab nut carving. AGWA and art centre curators, along with artists will talk about their experiences across the day. Visitors can listen to live music by David Pigram and browse handmade items including carved pearl shells, dyed silks, textiles, and jewellery at the AGWA Shop. Families can explore Bibbulmun artist Esther McDowell/ Yabini Kickett’s multi-media artwork that references the flora of Perth and connection to Country, and create their own response to it.

Ngarralja Tommy May with his artwork Untitled, 2018, synthetic polymer and paint pen on sheep hide, 122 x 158cm. Courtesy Mangkaja Arts Resource Agency

Published in partnership with UWA Press, a 240 page publication complements the exhibition and documents the Desert River Sea visual arts project and the artists and art centres of the Kimberley region. Artists will be available to sign the publication between 10-10.30am on Saturday 9 February.