At PICA we recognise that we are situated within the unceded lands of the Whadjuk people of the Noongar Nation. We pay our respects and offer our gratitude to Elders past and present, and to those emerging leaders in the community. We acknowledge all Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people and the importance of their care and continued connection to culture, community and Country.

Always was, always will be.

Our foyer is open today 10am–5pm . Our exhibitions are always free.

We hold you close
Katie West

We hold you close<BR>Katie West

Working with textiles and locally sourced plant matter, York-based artist Katie West’s immersive installations invite us to reconsider our relationship with the natural environment and each other. In her largest and most ambitious project to-date, We Hold You Close is a song for material intimacy that invites us to interact and engage in a sensory experience.

Gathering and learning from materials and one another is fundamental to West’s practice. In developing the exhibition, West invited friends and family to a natural dyeing workshop at her home on Noongar Ballardong boodja in York. Over two days, the group walked along the bilya collecting plant material. They made dye bundles and immersed them into pots of water on an open fire, to bubble away and become infused with the colour and scent of country. The group shared time around the fire, ate lunch, and drank cups of tea, waiting for the dye pot to do its work.

This collective and collaborative process results in a vibrant installation comprising textile works and soft furnishings carrying the colours and scents of earth, plant, and smoke. Central to the exhibition is a meeting space in which the visitors can make hand-twisted string from repurposed fabric over a cup of tea. Throughout the course of the exhibition, visitors add their handiwork to the gallery walls, creating an ever expanding supportive structure.

Two new video works complement the installation and enveloping the entire exhibition is a soundscape of ambient sounds made in collaboration with composer York-based Simon Charles and featuring string musicians Djuna Lee and Jameson Feakes.

West describes the exhibition asacknowledging and honouring the influence and nourishment of the collective – our families, friends, ancestors, and country, the others for whom we would not exist without and who need our presence too.”

Curated by Eloise Sweetman.

Download the Roomsheet
Watch an interview with Katie West
Listen to the Audio Tour
Download our Activity Sheet
Download our Think: Secondary Student Worksheet
Download our Teach: Educator Resource

About the Artist

Katie West (b. 1988) belongs to the Yindjibarndi people of the Pilbara tablelands in Western Australia. The process and notion of naturally dyeing fabric underpin her practice – the rhythm of walking, gathering, bundling, boiling up water and infusing materials with plant matter. In 2017 West completed a Master of Contemporary Art at the Victorian College of the Arts, University of Melbourne, graduating as the Dominik Mersch Gallery Award recipient and the Falls Creek Resort Indigenous Award. Exhibitions and commissions include Decolonist, Next Wave Festival, Melbourne; Radical Ecologies, PICA, Perth; Roll on, Roll on, Phenomena (until you are no more), curated by Eloise Sweetman, Jan van Eyck Academy, The Netherlands; Warna (ground), Caves Gallery, Melbourne; wilayi bangarrii, wanyaarri (go for a walk, listen), Dominik Mersch Gallery, Sydney NSW; Installation Contemporary, Sydney Contemporary 2019, Carriageworks, Sydney NSW; Clearing, TarraWarra Museum of Art, Healesville. West also shares a collaborative project with artist and writer Fayen d’Evie entitled Museum Incognita.

Eloise Sweetman (b. 1985, Western Australia) investigates systems and degrees of exchange where ideas, methodologies, discussion, and materials are made active, radiate out, and extend beyond the exhibition walls. These exchanges result in exhibitions, publications, and event-based programs. Projects and collaborations have been with Akwa Ibom, Athens; Spazio Orr, Brescia; Kunstlicht Journal of Visual Art and Culture, Amsterdam; Cookies, Amsterdam; Treignac Projet, Treignac; The Community, Paris; Kröller-Müller Museum, Otterlo; PUBLICS, Helsinki; MADA Gallery, Monash University Melbourne; A Tale of A Tub, Rotterdam; Stedelijk Museum, Amsterdam; Turning A Blind Eye, São Paulo Biennial; De Appel, Amsterdam; Political Arts Initiative, Leiden; Casco – Institute for Art, Utrecht; Thai Pavilion, Venice Biennale, Venice; and Gallery VER, Bangkok. Sweetman is co-director of Shimmer, an exhibition, events, and online platform in Rotterdam, The Netherlands. Since 2016, she is a theory lecturer at the Gerrit Rietveld Academie, Amsterdam.


Presented in association with the Perth Festival.
Supported by Visual Arts Program Partner Wesfarmers Arts.

Image: Pixel Poetry