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Indigenous art centres maintain an integral role in the remote communities they serve. Not only do they provide the space and materials to create art, they also facilitate opportunities to share knowledge and skills. For In Cahoots: Artists collaborate across Country six art centres each invited a contemporary artist to visit and collaborate with the Aboriginal artists of their area: Neil Aldum, Curtis Taylor, Trent Jansen, Claire Healy and Sean Cordeiro, Louise Haselton, and Tony Albert. These collaborations were completed over the course of several months and the results, curated by Erin Coates, keenly explore the significance of landscape, community and culture through installation, photography, fibre art, sculpture and film.

A descendent of the Girramay, Yidinji and Kuku-Yalanji people, artist Tony Albert is known for his striking work combining elements of Australian and Aboriginal history.

During his time with the Warakurna Artists collective, Albert worked with over 40 artists to create a large-scale installation featuring photography and sculptural objects assembled from recycled tin, shaped and painted to resemble houses, animals and people. “One of the best ways to learn about different people is the opportunity to live, work and collaborate with them,” Albert says.

_Tony Albert Kieran Smythe and David Collins_Warakurna Starwars 2_ 2017_ C type print_100 x 150cm_Sullivan+Strumpf and Warakurna Artists
Tony Albert, Kieran Smythe and David Collins, Warakurna Starwars 2, 2017, C type print, 100 x 150cm. Sullivan+Strumpf and Warakurna Artists.

Most importantly, each stage of the collaborative process was guided by the art centres, ensuring the culturally sensitive exchange of knowledge and the protection of sacred imagery specific to each community. For Claire Healy and Sean Cordeiro, the sharing of knowledge was a key experience of the time they spent in Parnngurr with the Martumili Artists. “As our own work informs the way we live, and the way we live informs the work we make, we were very interested in engaging with the Martu artists to understand their own connection to the land, and how it manifests in their own art practice and daily life.”

In Cahoots: Artists collaborate across Country
Fremantle Arts Centre 

25 November – 28 January 2018

Briony Downes