Narrogin Artists Contribute to Groundbreaking Project of Statewide Significance

Narrogin Artists Contribute to Groundbreaking Project of Statewide Significance

-Fiona Sinclair, Southern Forest Arts

Artists, curators and photographers from the Narrogin region are contributing to a legacy of positive impact for WA’s cultural industries as key collaborators in the development of a ground-breaking series of fourteen inter-connected exhibitions titled ‘The Alternative Archive’.

Under the guidance of Narrogin curators, Karen Keeley and Cait Stewart, 13 artists from the Narrogin region have developed original artworks to be publicly launched at 6pm on Friday 22 March at NEXIS Narrogin Exhibition Space. Each work responds to a central theme connecting this Narrogin exhibition with 12 other exhibitions to be held across regional WA between February and October this year.

‘The Alternative Archive’ exhibition seriesreframes the way local communities perceive their social contexts: unearthing stories that have been lost or kept hidden; retelling stories that had been forgotten or need to be told in a new way; and unveiling stories that have just been born. Through this process of exploration and transformation the project enhances community curiosity, vibrancy, and wellbeing. It simultaneously builds the profile, capacity and sustainability of individuals and organisations within the regional arts sector as a whole.

“The Alternative Archive is helping instil a new sense of optimism within the sector and a healthy arts sector means healthier communities for regional WA,” says Project Coordinator, Fiona Sinclair (of Southern Forest Arts).

“Sustaining a living from one’s creative practice is hard enough within metropolitan centres; the challenge for those living regionally is harder still. By working co-operatively instead of competitively through The Alternative Archive, we are harnessing the power of our shared vision, talents and resources to bring about better outcomes for all. When artists win, we all win!”

Thirteen regionally generated exhibitions, each reflecting the unique personality of their local communities are in development and/or display across seven of the State’s nine regions, to culminate in a metro survey exhibition at John Curtin Gallery in Perth during May 2020.

With 1 central theme, 14 exhibitions, 23 curators, 26 photographers and 150 artists participating from Kununurra to Esperance the project is the ‘first of its kind’ to be undertaken in the State.

Artists are recorders of social history, the creators of cultural capital in any community and their creative output is central to understanding our sense of identity, place and community,” says Lead Curator Anna Louise Richardson, author of the ‘The Alternative Archive’ brief.

The first exhibition was launched by Minister for the Arts, the Hon. David Templeman, MLA for Peel, on February 17th 2019 at Contemporary Art Spaces Mandurah with the final show due later this year in Kalgoorlie.

The Narrogin exhibition, The Alternative Archive – Common Ground, is the third exhibition in the series. Participating artists have reflected on and investigated a diverse range of subjects from personal and historical stories to reflections on local ecological issues and culture. 

Curators of the local Narrogin exhibition The Alternative Archive – common ground, Cait Stewart and Karen Keeley, have collaborated in bringing together local artists whose diverse range of arts mediums and practices make for an exciting archival interpretation of our regions historical and contemporary stories. On show will be sculptures using found materials, hand dyed cloth and paper using local foliage, paintings and installations including 3D printed images and drawings as well as textile installations. “We are thrilled with all the works produced and are very excited about presenting this show in Narrogin.”

The exhibition is on display at NEXIS Narrogin Exhibition Space, 82 Federal Street, Narrogin from Saturday 23 March 2019 to Sunday 14 April 2019. There will be curator and artists floor talks conducted on Friday April 5 and Saturday April 6. Further details are available at NEXIS and from ARTS Narrogin.

Additional presenting communities within The Alternative Archive suite include Albany, Mandurah, Lake Grace, Esperance, Manjimup, Carnamah, Dwellingup, Geraldton, Broome, Karratha, Kalgoorlie and Kununurra.

Photo by Sally Rogers

The survey exhibition will be held at the John Curtin Gallery in Perth during May 2020. Co-curated by Chris Malcom (Director, John Curtin Gallery) and Anna Louise Richardson (Independent curator) the 2020 exhibition will be a contemporary visual archive of regional Western Australian arts practice, documenting a dynamic anthology of how regional artists relate to the people, homes, towns or regions that they know so well. The showcase exhibition aims to increase understanding of the arts ecology, the practices, and conditions of regional art making in Western Australia.

“Partnering with John Curtin Gallery has invested greater depth and focus to the project overall,” said Project Coordinator, Fiona Sinclair. “We wanted to create new opportunities for regional artists and curators and having a nationally respected tertiary institution on board has certainly done that.”

With Anna and Chris touring to each of the regional shows, meeting artists and curators and preparing their selection of works for the 2020 survey, regional artists and curators will be further challenged to extend their practice within a supported context while enjoying the benefit of access to critical discourse about their work at a level rarely available outside the city.

The Alternative Archive is an initiative of The Creative Grid, a state-wide arts network formed within the pilot round of the Regional Arts Partnership Program supported by the State Government of WA and Country Arts WA. Mentorships for curators and photographers are central to the project and were made possible with support from the Australia Government through the Regional Arts Fund.