Art breaks down borders at the John Curtin Gallery

Artists and curators in front of artworks by Martine Perret and Amanda Bell at the Emergences exhibition at the Homes à Court Gallery, Vasse Felix.
Front row: Elisa Markes-Young, Shayne Hadley, Jane King, Co-Curator and Deputy Director John Curtin Gallery, Lia McKnight, Co-Curator and Collections Manager at the John Curtin Gallery.
Back row: Christopher Young, Annette Davis Co-Curator, Anita Pettit, Kate Alida Mullen, Helen Seiver, Franceso Geronazzo. Photo: Christopher Young.

Art breaks down borders at the John Curtin Gallery

The John Curtin Gallery has demonstrated its commitment to regional arts with the announcement of the 40 regional artists whose artworks have been selected for the Open Borders survey exhibition, which will be held at the Gallery from 12 August to 8 October 2023.

The 40 artists come from all 12 regions of Western Australia and represent the quality and diversity of regional arts practice.

 The artists are:
• Geraldton: Jodie Groves, Emmaline James, Marianne Penberthy, Sara Walker, Chinese Dance Group.
• Dwellingup: Ned Crossley, Catherine Higham, Monique Tippett.
• Denmark: Melissa Boughey, Gabrielle Gelhaar, Janine McCrum, Jen Mitchell, Nikki Green.
• Esperance: Lynda Horn, Marcia Leonard.
 Carnamah: Andrew Bowman, Seb Essers, Jenny Mutter.
• Port Hedland: Amelia Blanco.
• Kununurra: Agnes Armstrong, Betty Bundamarra, Paddy Carlton, Lily Karadada, Phyllis Ningamarra.
• Northcliffe: Elizabeth Edmonds, Peter Hill, Lori Pensini, Louise Tasker, Lyndall Watson.
• Ravensthorpe: Cat Tink, Louise Lodge, Judith Stewart.
 Kalgoorlie: Tina Carmody, Melissa Drummond.
• Narrogin: Ned Crossley and Ross Storey collaborative painting, Kellie Nelissen
• Margaret River: Shayne Hadley, Elisa Markes-Young, Kate Alida Mullen, Helen Seiver.

The exhibition will also feature documentation from performances developed in Broome, the Gascoyne and Kalgoorlie-Boulder, as part of the Mycelium project.

Open Borders, a survey of contemporary regional art practice, is co-curated by Annette Davis, independent curator from Albany with Jane King, Deputy Director and Lia McKnight, Curator/Collections Manager at the John Curtin Gallery.

The upcoming exhibition is the culmination of the three-year Mycelium project, overseen by Southern Forest Arts, which had its genesis in the closed borders of the COVID-19 pandemic. The project, established in 2020, facilitated and presented the work of more than 160 regional artists and curators as a way to nurture resilience and sustainability throughout the years-long pandemic.

During 2022/2023, the artists showcased their work in a state-wide series of regional exhibitions and performances, all of which responded to the theme of ‘open borders’. The upcoming exhibition at the Gallery will present selected works from those exhibitions.

In developing the Open Borders theme, Ms Davis reflected on the impact of the borders implemented to manage the COVID -19 pandemic.

“The experience of closed regional, State and international borders was certainly the starting point for exploring the idea of borders,” she said.

“Working from a situation of closed borders to a situation of hope and expansion, curators and artists were also encouraged to consider other borders in their lives, including physical, psychological and emotional.

They also found creative ways to reach across borders within their community to engage new artists and audiences. Each exhibition was an insightful reflection of the community, and in some cases, was transformational for the participating artists.”

The rigorous selection process for Open Borders included Ms King, Ms McKnight and Ms Davis traveling to the regions in 2022 and 2023 to view the 12 exhibitions. The curatorial team also had the opportunity to meet with many of the artists and curators and discuss the artworks.

The team then reviewed the artworks for inclusion in the exhibition using four criteria including:
• At least one work from every regional exhibition.
• Artistic excellence.
• Consideration of the diversity of media, gender, and thematic responses.
• Artworks that link strongly to the overall theme.

Ms King said choosing just 40 artworks from the 12 exhibitions was a challenge given the excellence of the work.

“Although it was daunting to begin with, the established criteria guided the final choices. The selected artworks convey many different responses to the Open Borders theme and were chosen for their pertinence to the theme and their quality,” Ms King said.

Open Borders is a celebration of the expertise of our many wonderful regional artists and curators, and an acknowledgement of the stories they have to tell. John Curtin Gallery is excited to contribute to the viability and success of artists, curators and arts organisations from across the State.”

Open Borders will be held at the John Curtin Gallery from 11 August to 8 October 2023. There will be a public program in support of the exhibition. Details will be posted on the Gallery’s website Facebook and Instagram pages.

The exhibition is made possible through the support of the Department of Local Government, Sport, and Cultural Industries and the Regional Exhibitions Touring Boost, supported by ART ON THE MOVE.


Media Contact
Arianne Chavez, Gallery Communications and Engagement Coordinator | Tel: 9266 7347

Background on Open Borders

The Open Borders exhibition builds on the John Curtin Gallery’s expertise in working with regional artists and curators, which was developed during The Alternative Archive, a 2020 exhibition that showcased work drawn from a series of regional exhibitions.

The three-year Mycelium project, which culminates in Open Borders comprises:
• 12 exhibitions
• 3 performances in the creative development stage
• 122 artists
• 30 curators/producers
• 1 central coordinator
• 1 lead curator
• 2 John Curtin Gallery curators
• 154 employment opportunities

About the John Curtin Gallery
The John Curtin Gallery is located on Curtin University’s Bentley Campus. The Gallery is one of the state’s leading public art galleries and one of the largest university galleries in Australia. It presents four major exhibitions a year and houses the precious Carrolup | John Curtin Gallery.

Opening hours
Monday to Friday: 11.00am to 5.00pm.
Sunday: 12.00pm to 4.00pm.