Oct 11, 2011 - Ideas, News    7 Comments

Creating so much more than art…

Deborah Bonar, Rod Collard, Tim Winmar and I with one of Rod's gorgeous paintings

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.


  • Kidogo does very good work with our local Aboriginal friends, but it is time the City of Fremantle created a cultural centre for the Noongar people. I have been suggesting this for years, but there does not seem any development on this. What about the C Shed on Victoria Quay, the fomer Energy Museum in Parry Street, or the Navy Store and Cantonment Hill, to name a few. possibilities.

    Roel Loopers

  • I think it is brilliant that we have someone who is making a public statement about our interests for Aboriginal and non- Aboriginal artists. Art to us is the best way of reconciliation between the Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal people. We’d appreciate other people like Roel to give us helpful comments about building a stronger future together. I think this is a great start. Rod Collard (Nyoongar Artist) and the Aboriginal Artists at Kidogo Arthouse.

  • Good stuff Rachel… Kidogo (whether Kidogo’s nay-sayers like it or not) plays a HUGE part in building the confidence and capacity of Indigenous artists who choose to paint in Fremantle – thus making Freo their ‘artist home’! I’ve been involved in Fremantle for many years (as I said to you) and Kidogo is the first body I’m aware of, that actually believes in the artists that come and paint there.

    It shows… and if the City of Fremantle wants to have positive stories to share in relation to the Indigenous peoples who visit here or are a part of this place here – then they too have to positively invest in these artists too. There are many ways to do this and there are many steps to take – but lets at least take the fist step together hey – rather then get scared as to what such steps might mean – or might not mean – to one group or the other.

    We’ve come such a long way in general – blackfellas and whitefellas working together despite the political quagmire put upon all of us by our illustrious Country’s leaders – don’t let ‘small’ things get in the way of potentially ‘big’, real people progress, as that’d be a real shame – especially in Freo!

  • What are aboriginal people doing about ‘creating a productive and positive future for aboriginal people in Fremantle’? Why does the City of Fremantle have to create a cultural centre? What is a cultural centre?

    • Bingle Bongle – the people I met with are Aboriginal people doing exactly that – and they want to keep doing it and have their work be noticed and supported!
      The City of Fremantle provides many community facilities and an Aboriginal arts and culture centre would be a legitimate and valuable addition to its community facilities. It would be an assett for the whole community where we can all learn more about the rich Noongar culture.

  • I believe this is an integral issue to building a tolerant and developed society, and I look forward to seeing it implemented. An Indigenous Cultural Centre would be a great educational tool and will indeed prove to be an asset of great value to the community.
    Mr Loopers’ suggestions are excellent starting places as potential venues, and his statement illustrates the type of directness required to achieve a development such as this.

    The creation of an indigenous cultural centre will certainly be a timely social investment which I am sure would return significant social returns to All the people of Fremantle.
    Congratulations on the result. May your term be a long successful one for all the folk of Freo town.

    • Well said Dave!