The Art Gallery of WA and the Aboriginal Art Centre Hub of WA (AACHWA) have partnered to create an internship program for six Aboriginal arts workers from remote WA.
The program has been designed by the AACHWA to bridge the skills divide and provide better access to professional development opportunities that are often difficult to attend for arts workers in remote regions of the state.
“This internship was special because it meant real-world, on-the-job experience for these emerging professionals, allowing them to be directly involved in preparing and installing work with very strong cultural significance to them,” AACHWA CEO Chad Creighton said.
The six Aboriginal arts workers from Roebourne, Leonora, Geraldton and Kununurra were between their early twenties to mid-fifties and spent eight days working together to install the Desert Sea: Portraits of the Kimberley exhibition.
The exhibition opened on February 6th and features upwards of 150 old and new Aboriginal artworks from Aboriginal artists across WA’s Kimberley region.
The interns spent most of their time together at the Art Gallery of WA and Art on the Move, an art handling and art touring organisation based in Fremantle. They also visited other important museum and art sites around Perth as part of the program.
“[They]had the rare opportunity to work under the guidance of Art Gallery of WA staff, learning art handling, conservation and gallery protocol skills,” Mr Creighton said.
“Travelling thousands of kilometres from their communities to be part of one of WA’s largest art institution’s major exhibitions was a rare and special opportunity.”
The AACHWA said the program resulted in a significant two-way learning exchange in WA’s Aboriginal Arts sector.
Art Gallery of WA staff shared their professional skills and knowledge to the interns while also expanding their understanding of Aboriginal culture.
Likewise, each intern has returned to their respective art centres across the state with a broader range of knowledge and tools to implement in their workplaces.
Creighton said everyone involved sees the value in growing this new program and that he is passionate about seeing it continue into the future.
“We feel it’s the beginning of a very strong model for professional development for WA art centre art workers,” Mr Creighton said.
By Hannah J. Cross