Patrick William Carter on collaboration and healing

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The vibrant multi-disciplinary works of Patrick William Carter are, in their way, love stories: love of family, music, Country and culture. Combining performance and dance with sound, video and painting, Carter, a Noongar artist based in Perth, has established a unique body of work that explores hybrid modes of creation. YEDI / SONGS from Patrick William Carter offers a warm and emotional sample of his recent works.

While much of Carter’s work addresses his Indigenous identity, family and community, perhaps the most immediately engaging aspect of his art is not just his innovative toying with media and medium, but his collaborative spirit. With the exhibition including four projected pieces, a new work called WIND, 2021, shows how Carter approaches collaboration, working with performer and choreographer Sam Fox and designer and director Sam Price.

And collaboration is also where this exhibition began. “My development as an artist who plays with media to craft songs and stories began with experimentation using iPads and projectors in 2012, followed by a collaboration with [Perth artist] Sohan Ariel Hayes,” explains Carter. “SONGS charts my evolving practice since I first collaborated with Sohan—he provided more sophisticated tools to experiment with my painted and drawn works, and create songs about my family.

“Collaborators facilitate my process by sourcing materials, instruments, studios and other collaborators. They are an essential part of my process when hybridising artforms. When I work alone, my starting point is to work on paper using pencil, watercolour and acrylic paints.”

Also exhibited is the triptych work BLOOM 1,2,3, 2017-18, in which Carter addresses his experiences of medical treatment. “BLOOM grew out of increased occurrences of illness and hospitalisations that interrupted [my] artistic and career development. The heart of this work is the overlay of culture and Country in a purely medical context and, ultimately, healing.”

YEDI / SONGS from Patrick William Carter
Patrick William Carter
Perth Institute of Contemporary Arts
21 February—18 April

This article was originally published in the March/April 2021 print edition of Art Guide Australia.

Barnaby Smith