Sunday, 18 February 2007

This is the media release that WDM sent out for Australia Day. I thought it may be of interest to those who have not followed the developement of the Western Desert Mob. cheers, Dianna

24 January 2007


26 January 2007

Aboriginal artists unite to stand strong on Australia Day

As a defiant and bold step toward maintaining strong, sustainable, Aboriginal-owned enterprises, an alliance of Indigenous artists and art centres from the Ngaanyatjarra Lands in Western Australia today announced the formation of the Western Desert Mob.

The Western Desert Mob is a powerful coalition of Aboriginal art centres, painters, woodcarvers and weavers from the region - united to ensure the wealth of talent and economic returns are retained in the community.

While considerable contention and debate continues in the art world concerning authenticity, ownership and the impact of art dealers in the remote communities, the Western Desert Mob has been formed to take action to safe guard the ethos of building strong community, family and culture.

The communities and art centres represented in the Western Desert Mob include renowned and well-established artists from Warakurna, Papulankutja, Kayili, Maruku and Tjanpi.

According to Project Coordinator Tim Acker, Western Desert Mob focuses on celebrating artists across the region and is anticipated to develop into one of the most significant Aboriginal art groups in Australia.

“There is significant contention in the industry at present, we want to rise above this and show the strength and positive impact the art centres are having in this region. The art centres, as part of the Western Desert Mob are one of the most positive examples of Aboriginal owned and managed art enterprises in Australia,” Tim said.

The Western Desert Mob aims to strengthen the connections and continuity between artists across this desert region and support for the artists from each centre is crucial to the future of the Western Desert Mob.

Warakurna Art Centre Manager, Edwina Circuitt, along with others in the region is constantly inspired by the strong artistic culture of the Western Desert Mob Artists.

“This group of like-minded artists, demonstrate the uncompromising approach to living in, and maintaining cultural links to, country, ensuring culture, creativity and stories are carried on to the future generations. This can only be done if the artists live in their community to pass on their wealth of talent,” Edwina said.

“We need to celebrate the exceptional artworks being produced from the region by artists living and painting in-country - sharing stories of country, culture and family,” Edwina said.

According to the Western Desert Mob, authentic art is centred on the artist’s physical and spiritual connection to country.

“Living and working or creating in the land of their birth is vital for an artist’s connection to country. This must remain intact and uncompromised because passing on these important stories to young people is a critical means of keeping culture strong and vital and is a crucial role of the art centres,” Edwina said.

“In some cases, if there was no art centre in the community, there would be no community,” Edwina said.

There is a significant difference between privately owned art businesses and community owned and managed art centres. Western Desert Mob members are Aboriginal owned and governed art businesses, with transparent operations and where 65% of the art proceeds return directly to the artist and the remainder reinvested into the art centre business.

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