I was privileged to be invited to Kidogo Arthouse this morning to meet with some of the local Aboriginal contemporary artists who work from there.
I listened to Deborah Bonar, Rod Collard, Tim Winmar (pictured) and Wendy Hayden talk about the important role that the City of Fremantle could play towards reconciliation, and creating a productive and positive future for Aboriginal people in Fremantle.
They told me about how Kidogo’s art course had helped people get out of a rut, drinking in parks and gave them some hope, opportunities to learn and share their stories. It gave them pride and respect.
Kidogo also helps connect contemporary Aboriginal artists with professional opportunities; Deborah and Wendy are both currently working on major commissioned artworks for public buildings in Perth.
However they explained that contemporary Noongar artists are not well known or supported through existing arts networks, which tend to favour desert and traditional painters – and with nowhere to go once the course was complete, some people drift back into life in the parks.
Ron and Wendy want the City of Fremantle to come and talk to them (not invite them to be part of a working group) about creating a welcoming cultural centre for “local Noongars and anyone else who wants to come and learn art”. They talked about a similar successful centre in Roeburn that provides a safe, welcoming place where stories, food, culture and art can be shared and learned, and where respect and understanding can grow.
Whether elected or not, I will convene a meeting with Councillors and Aboriginal artists and community leaders to develop a partnership with council that celebrates positive contemporary Aboriginal culture and focuses on the future.
Fremantle is a significant place for Aboriginals, in both traditional and contemporary culture, leadership is required if we are to create a brighter future for it; one that will make us all proud.