Ode to Pilbara 

Untitled artwork by Illyampi Victor Burton in Tracks We Share.

IT WAS three years in the making and features more than 70 artists, 200 artworks and 502,000sqkm of territory – welcome to the highly ambitious Tracks We Share: Contemporary Art of the Pilbara.

Taking the audience on an artistic odyssey from the Pilbara coastline, through the towns and the pastoral leases and into the desert, the WA Art Gallery exhibition leaves no stone unturned.

The region is best known for its stunning acrylic paintings, but lead curator Andrew Nicholls says people will be impressed by the diverse artworks in the exhibition including video installations and ceremonial artefacts.

This is most evident in works from the region’s newest art centre, Juluawarlu Art Group, formed in 2016.

“Out of all of the artists in the show, those representing Juluwarlu are probably the ones who are least known in Perth,” Nicholls says.

“They’re a comparatively young art centre, but I think they’re also one of the most adventurous in terms of the different mediums that the artists explore, which is really exciting for audiences who may not yet be familiar with them.

“Their works include ceremonial artefacts, paintings, works on paper, carved and etched boards, and they’ve got a really spectacular video installation, so I’m sure viewers will find their contribution really dynamic.”

Juluwarlu Art Group member Barngyi (Pansy) Cheedy says their art is all about sharing stories.

“Different areas have different vibes about their artwork,” she says.

“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 also includes iconic artists from the region like Yindjibarndi elder Aileen Sandy. 

Tracks We Share: Contemporary Art of the Pilbara is at the WA Art Gallery until August 28.

by STEPHEN POLLOCK

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