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Art gallery of western australia      
AGWA media
18 November 2014
Art Gallery of WA launches website
to celebrate Indigenous art of the Kimberley

Following extensive planning, consultation and research the Art Gallery of WA has launched a new website for its Desert River Sea: Kimberley Art Then & Now project made possible through a $1.8 million, 6-year partnership with Rio Tinto.
This nationally relevant website is a growing online resource that will record and share the visual arts of the Kimberley as part of the most significant Indigenous cultural program undertaken by the Gallery.
The Desert River Sea website is an accessible mapping of current and emerging arts practice from across the entire Kimberley region, preserving WA’s Indigenous heritage and celebrating the creative diversity that is evolving from often remote areas.

Art Gallery of Western Australia Director, Dr Stefano Carboni said, “Our vision is for the Desert River Sea website to establish itself as a compelling and substantial resource not just for the artists and communities directly involved, but for all those seeking inspiration and information about Kimberley art. Ambitious and aspiring, the Desert River Sea project seeks to connect communities more strongly to each other and this digital platform is integral to extending awareness of the region’s art, beyond the region.”

Andrew Harding, Rio Tinto’s Chief Executive, Iron Ore, China, Korea and Japan said, "The partnership is transforming the way our State Art Gallery engages with, and opens its doors to, Indigenous art centres and artists in the furthest corners of Western Australia.

“As the principal partner of Desert River Sea, it re-affirms for Rio Tinto the close relationship our business has built with Aboriginal communities over the past two decades. We recognise the connection of Aboriginal people to their land and we actively collaborate to preserve the cultural heritage of Traditional Owners, as well as showcase their rich art and culture.”

As the name of the project suggests the cultural and geographical complexity of Kimberley visual arts is represented on this digital portal. The Indigenous people of the Kimberley can identify as desert people, freshwater people or saltwater people, and the stories portrayed reflects this diversity and richness.
The expansive 6-year visual arts initiative, Desert River Sea: Kimberley Art Then & Now began in 2012, evolved out of close dialogue with Indigenous artists and established art centres throughout the region.
A cornerstone of the project, will display Indigenous Kimberley art that forms part of the Gallery’s State Collection. These works will sit alongside the work of emerging and established Kimberley artists and art centres, providing a rich overview into historic and current visual arts in the region.
As well as being a place of digital record and tool for academic research, will also act as a cultural tourism resource for those planning travel through the spectacular Kimberley region.
The Desert River Sea team has travelled extensively to gather images and footage, most recently spending 2 weeks exploring the spectacular East Kimberley region with FTI’s Indigenous Community Stories to map and record Kimberley Aboriginal art practices on film. These captivating and significant stories will be shared via the new website.
Through documenting artists’ statements and recording samples of artwork, the website will contribute to preserving past, current and emerging arts practices of the region.

For more information, interviews and imagery please contact
Kathy Johnston | Project3 | 08 – 9430 5395 |

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Daniel Walbidi Kirriwirri & Kulyakartu 2011. Synthetic polymer paint on canvas, 121.5 x 120.5 cm. State Art Collection, Art Gallery of Western Australia. Purchased through the TomorrowFund, Art Gallery of Western Australia Foundation, 2012. © Daniel Walbidi 2011. Jimmy Pike Desert flowers – Partiri 1986. Colour screen-print, 65.0 x 87.5 cm. State Art Collection, Art Gallery of Western Australia. Purchased 1987. © Jimmy Pike 1986. Jan Billycan Kirriwirri 2009. Synthetic polymer paint on plywood, 90 x 60 cm each (3 boards) 92.2 x 182.8 cm, State Art Collection, Art Gallery of Western Australia, Purchased through The Leah Jane Cohen Bequest, Art Gallery of Western Australia Foundation, 2010, © Jan Billycan 2009.
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