The culture, knowledge, and creative expression of the Pilbara’s Aboriginal artists will be celebrated in a new multi-artform exhibition and documentation project highlighting the region’s art movement.

Initiated by FORM in collaboration with Martumili Artists in Newman, Spinifex Hill Studio in South Hedland, Roebourne’s Yinjaa-Barni Art, Juluwarlu Art Group and Cheeditha Art Group, as well as Yindjibarndi artist Katie West and Martu artist Curtis Taylor, the Pilbara Survey (a working title) will map the historical context and development of the Pilbara’s Aboriginal art movement for the first time, and demonstrate the region’s Aboriginal communities as vital contributors to Australia’s cultural identity.

This multi-year program of research and sustained creative and professional development encompasses collaborative bush trips on Country, artist mentoring and skills development, the commissioning of new artworks, artist residencies and interviews. It will culminate in a series of exhibitions for regional, state, and national touring which will highlight the immense value of the Pilbara’s Aboriginal art to local and national audiences.

The Pilbara Survey will also produce a rich catalogue of historical context and artist biographies, all anchored in the need to maintain, record and share both traditional knowledge and contemporary experiences.

For the first time we get to see representation of people, artists, storytellers, and landscapes that hail from the Pilbara, together in this Survey” Martu artist Curtis Taylor said. 

The first exhibition in a series showing as part of the project, What Now? The next generation of Martumili Artists opened last night at the Goods Shed in Claremont, showcasing works by emerging Martu artists from across the East Pilbara. A major, region-wide exhibition, the Pilbara Survey, is in development for showcase in 2022.  

FORM Executive Director Lynda Dorrington said the Pilbara Survey was established to sustain, strengthen and showcase the Aboriginal art centres and artists of the Pilbara.

“The Pilbara Survey aims to highlight the mature talent that resides within the Aboriginal artists of the Pilbara and recognises the immense cultural and stylistic diversity that exists in the region. The collaborative approach of the art centres has enabled the project to blossom and the creative outcomes are fostering a sense of pride within communities, creating opportunities for the intergenerational transfer of knowledge, and increasing access to income and employment opportunities,” Ms Dorrington said

The Pilbara Survey has been made possible through the support of BHP who have partnered with FORM for 15 years in the Pilbara, the State Government through the Regional Economic Touring Boost, the City of Karratha, Lotterywest, the Australia Council for the Arts, and the Federal Government through Indigenous Visual Arts Industry Support.