The Perth Institute of Contemporary Arts is delighted to announce the establishment of an interim Aboriginal Advisory Group to help PICA embed the voices and cultural protocols of Indigenous artists into the words and actions of what we do. Made up of leading Aboriginal visual and performing artists and arts workers, it includes Sharyn Egan, Stephen Gilchrist, Glenn Iseger-Pilkington, Rohin Kickett and Janine Oxenham.
Resting on the unceded homelands of the Whadjuk Noongar People, PICA has worked with First Nations artists, curators and writers on exhibitions, performances and public programs across its more than 30-year history. By forming an Aboriginal Advisory Group, PICA seeks to ensure that all First Nations programming is First Nations–led, recognising the rights of First Nations people to oversee the representation of their diverse cultures.
Through ongoing consultation with the group, PICA aims to recognise First Nations perspectives throughout the organisation, including through organisational governance, staff cultural understanding and increased employment opportunities for First Nations artists and arts workers at PICA.
From July, the interim group will work together to determine the scope of an ongoing Advisory Group within PICA’s remit.
PICA is privileged to be collaborating with the Advisory Group as we work towards:
- Embedding First Nations values into the organisation, including its governance and advisory structures, through First Nations representation and respectful methods for working.
- Integrating First Nations knowledge, languages and perspectives into the majority of PICA’s activities, i.e., exhibitions, performances, education and public programs.
- Increasing opportunities for First Nations artists, curators, writers, designers and arts workers to work at PICA and ensure all PICA staff undertake cultural training.
- Creating a welcoming environment at PICA for First Nations artists, arts workers and communities.
- Listening and learning from First Nations stakeholders and participants to improve PICA’s methods and practices.
About the Interim Aboriginal Advisory Group
Sharyn Egan is a Noongar woman who began creating art at the age of 37, which lead to her enrolling in a Diploma of Fine Arts at the Claremont School of Art in Perth. She completed this course in 1998 and enrolled in the Associate Degree in Contemporary Aboriginal Art at Curtin University, which she completed in 2000. In 2001 she was awarded a Bachelor of Arts (Arts) from Curtin University. She has also been awarded a Certificate VI in Training and Education in 2011. The themes in Egan’s work are informed by the experiences of her life as a Noongar woman.
Exhibiting at PICA in 2021 as part of nyinalanginy / the gathering, Egan’s work Kalyakoorl (Always), pictured above, is comprised of a collection of Xanthorrhoea preissii cores, a species of the grass tree endemic to Noongar Boodja and known as Balga in Noongar. Kalyakoorl (Always) is a physical manifestation of the strength and resilience of Noongar peoples, who continue the traditions of their ancestors while navigating a changing world.
Belonging to the Yamatji people of the Inggarda language group of northwest Western Australia, Dr Stephen Gilchrist is a Senior Lecturer in the School of Indigenous Studies at The University of Western Australia. He is a writer and curator who has worked with the Indigenous Australian collections of the National Gallery of Australia, British Museum, National Gallery of Victoria and Hood Museum of Art, Dartmouth College (2011–2013). Gilchrist has curated numerous exhibitions in Australia and the United States and has written extensively on Indigenous Art from Australia. 2012–2016, he was the Australian Studies Visiting Curator at the Harvard Art Museums, Harvard University.
Glenn Iseger-Pilkington (Nhanda and Noongar Peoples/ Dutch/ Scottish) is the Curator of Visual Arts at Fremantle Art Centre in Walyalup (Fremantle), Western Australia. Iseger-Pilkington undertook formal art training at the School of Contemporary Art, Edith Cowan University, majoring in printmaking. Over the last 17 years, he has worked within the visual arts sector as an arts development officer, curator, advisor, and advocate for Aboriginal & Torres Strait Islander artists. Iseger-Pilkington has also held the roles of Senior Curator (FORM: building a state of creativity), Curator of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Art and Material Culture (South Australian Museum), Curator Content Development, (New Museum Project | Western Australian Museum) and Associate Curator of Indigenous Objects and Photography (Art Gallery of Western Australia).
Rohin Kickett is a Balardong, Whadjuk Noongar artist born in Northam, Western Australia 1986. He spent his childhood years in Gosnells and now resides in Armadale, where he has been a full-time practising artist since 2017. Before becoming an artist, Kickett had completed an apprenticeship in Metal Fabrication and 1st Class Welding, where he spent 12 years in the metal fabrication industry. At 32, Rohin completed the Indigenous Tertiary Enabling Course at the Centre for Aboriginal Studies at Curtin University. Over the last six years, Kickett has participated in many exhibitions, held solo exhibitions, completed a residency along with international cultural exchange programs, and completed multiple public art projects.
Janine Oxenham is a Malgana Yamatji woman from the Shark Bay area in WA. She has studied dance at both NAISDA College, NSW and WAAPA, WA. She has choreographed and performed as a freelance contemporary Indigenous dancer for numerous festivals in regional WA. In 2015 she mounted the work Willy Willy as part of the Ausdance’s Future Landings project. She has facilitated community dance groups and performed as part of the core crew for the travelling festival Creality (formerly Gascoyne in May) for the past nine years. More recently, Oxenham has worked as Movement Director and choreographer for Yirra Yaakin and Perth Festival productions of Hecate and Panawathi Girl.
Image: Sharyn Egan, Kalyakoorl (Always), 2021, Balga (Xanthorrhoea preissii) and natural earth pigments, nyinalanginy / the gathering, Perth Institute of Contemporary Arts (PICA), 2021, photo: Bo Wong