The Pilbara comes to Perth
It wasn’t your average venue for a fine art exhibition but remember this is Marnti warajanga which is not your average touring exhibition.
The venue was Central Park in the heart of Perth. The tallest building in Perth, its foyer is a canyon of polished granite and marble with a constant ebb and flow of gorgeously groomed business people. This was clearly the ‘movers and shakers’ end of town.
My colleague, John Wayte, and I spent a number of days installing the Marnti warajanga exhibition on temporarily configured panels that wrapped the granite walls. The exhibition looked great and was a fantastic juxtaposition of rugged faces from the Pilbara against the backdrop of a super charged controlled environment.
During the installation it was great to see busy workers stop and take a moment to engage with the artworks. The newspaper journo’s feedback to me, as he waited for his interview with Tobi who was passionately outlining his photography process to interested onlookers , was that it was a nice change to take an exhibition out of a gallery environment and make it accessible to an audience who would otherwise, not visit a gallery.
Approximately 55 guests attended the official launch on Friday 13th April. The atmosphere was relaxed but suitably dignified. Guests, who included local politicians, Pilbara Indigenous workers, BHP staff, Wangka Maya Board members, Art Institution reps and people pictured in the portraits, were offered a selection of fine Margaret River wines and delicious canapés. The show was officially opened by Jenny Anderson Director of the Museum of Australian Democracy and Richard O’Connell, Head of Community and Indigenous Affairs BHP Billiton Iron Ore, but my personal highlight was hearing Dr Richard Walley, a Nyoongar man, extend a powerful welcome to his country for the exhibition. That was special and quite moving.
And to top off a highly successful evening I was treated to a rare view of Perth at night from the tallest vantage point in Perth - the roof of Central Park. It was a nice way to end my busy week in Perth.