Thursday, 21 August 2008

I had a very quick trip to Darwin for the Western Desert Mob meeting. We are planning our Melbourne exhibition and our "Buy right way" campaign, amongst other things.

I will post the press statement issued by the group and the statement read at our press conference by John Oster of Desart.

What is interesting to me is the reporting that came from our press meeting. It is clear to me that there is no comprehension of the importance of community based art centres or the energy that the art centre members put into understanding and working their business in remote and difficult conditions. The journalists seem rude and arrogant in their attitude to indigenous art centre executive members and their capacity to learn and work in their art centre.

I spoke to Peter Shepherd this week to talk about our business training sessions and the work we have done over the last 5 years. We were due to have our next training meeting at Warakurna this week, due to the very unexpected and sad death of Mr. Ivan Shepherd, the meeting has been called off for now. Peter and I feel we have come a long way, it has been a big ask getting these guys, some of them who remember the first coming of white man, to take on the management of art centres that require government regulated performance.

At Blackstone we are trying with the assistance of Desart and Ngaanyatjarra Council to bring young community members into formalized training that will give them the skills and desire to participate more fully in the management of the art centre, take the burden off the elders who have carried this task until now.

A business training meeting with Peter Shepherd at Blackstone in early 2006

We have had to learn and accept concepts that are quite foreign to us, deal with a world that we have never seen and of which we have no understanding. Be confused by the whitefella market and their quirky and strange take on what is good art and their lack of understanding of what is truly important.

Our methods are adapted to what we have found practical, we work with an interpreter, we do a lot of writing on large sheets of butchers paper, we stop between training sessions and the artists meet and talk amongst themselves to discuss what they have heard and to bring back questions and give directions about some business process and future directions.

This is an intense and serious time, to suggest that the artists are not participating in the management and decision making of their art centre is insulting in the least.