BlakLight

BlakLight

Every wall, every floor, every channel. First Nations art takes over AGWA.

In an Australian State Gallery first, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander art takes the entire stage at AGWA, during BlakLight, a month-long program celebrating the diversity of First Nations art and culture.

BlakLight sees every gallery space at AGWA dedicated to Australia's most significant contemporary art form – showcasing the diversity and complexity of First Nations art. Accompanying this gallery-wide focus is an event program sparking conversation about cultural identities and exploring the notion of community through visual art, music, talks and more. Professional development workshops for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander artists based in Perth also feature in the program.

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Exhibitions on during BlakLight

Tracks We Share: Contemporary Art of the Pilbara
Gallery 1, 3, 4 & 5 | 11 March – 28 August
Celebrating the Aboriginal artists and artwork of Western Australia's Pilbara region, this landmark exhibition brings together more than 70 artists and over 190 artworks across four gallery spaces. This extraordinary body of work features the most exciting contemporary art and practice coming out of the region while paying homage to the legacy that has informed it, offering a rare and broad-reaching insight into the region's artistic output over the years. This exhibition is a collaboration between FORM, The Art Gallery of Western Australia; and participating Aboriginal art centres of the Pilbara; alongside independent artists.

Ever Present: First Peoples Art of Australia 
Gallery 6 & 7 | Until 18 April
Ever Present surveys historical and contemporary works by over 80 Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander artists from across Australia. Drawn from the collections of the National Gallery of Australia and Wesfarmers Arts, the influential works in this touring exhibition reveal the contemporary views and lived experiences of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people, bridging time and place, and connecting through the perspectives of identity, resilience and cultural legacy.

Balancing Act
Our story is not one story but many stories to share

Gallery 2 | Ongoing
This exhibition draws upon works by Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander artists from the State Art Collection. The unique works of art in this space reflect the nuanced and diverse lived experiences of First Nations artists living and working across the continent, weaving stories about Country, identity, family and community.

Tyrown Waigana
Overgrown 
AGWA Foyer | Until 13 June
Wardandi and Saibai Islander multidisciplinary artist and graphic designer Tyrown Waigana probes themes like identity, feelings, politics, and art history through his surreal concepts and abstract painting. Waigana's work, Overgrown, welcomes AGWA's visitors as the first artwork developed for AGWA's mural wall. The work references the tendency of high art and high culture to strive for unstoppable growth—and the idea of new things covering old things or old things becoming new things.

Michael Jalaru Torres | Jurru 
Gallery 8 | Until 3 July
Djugun and Yawaru photographic artist Michael Jalaru Torres explores social history and the political and cultural identities of community members from the Kimberley region of Western Australia, with his innovative portraiture and abstracted landscape photography. The artist's own story is woven throughout the works in the gallery space, interlinked by Torres' imperative to map and understand not only himself but others through the lens of his camera.

Bábbarra Designs: Material stories by women of Arnhem Land 
Gallery 10 | 24 March – 17 July
On display is a selection of Bábbarra Designs' exquisite hand-printed textiles that tell the ancestral stories of Bábbarra's Arnhem Land country and cultures.

Initially established as a women's refuge in 1983, the Bábbarra Women's Centre is now an established art centre with a strong focus on professional development and providing opportunities for artists. Its textile business, Bábbarra Designs, is one of Australia's oldest continuously operating Indigenous textile enterprises. During the 1990s, Bábbarra began working in etching, lithography and screen-printing through a series of workshops and projects run jointly with Maningrida Arts and Culture. Today, the studio works with lino block printing, screen printing, natural dying and works on paper. Bábbarra Designs' textiles are in the collections of major institutions across Australia and exported worldwide.

Boorongur | Sharyn Egan
Gallery 9 | 18 March – 4 December
Gallery 9 is dedicated to interactive, all ages, artist-led projects. Boorongur (Totem), in collaboration with Sharyn Egan, will provide a shared space for audiences to consider a personal plant or animal totem, and contribute to the accumulation of families of small raffia and wool creatures.

Sharyn Egan invites children and families to think about multi-species relationships and care for environments where human and non-human species cohabit. Elaino Megalania, a sculpture made from natural materials of a megafauna skeleton belonging to an animal alive at the time of the First Australians on the continent, will also be exhibited in the space.

Boorongur is supported by Healthway promoting the Act Belong Commit message, and aligns with AGWA’s commitment to developing meaningful, multi-sensory, long term engagement projects that have social, emotional and community impact. The space is designed to inspire quiet conversation, rest, creativity, and imagination while offering an opportunity for audiences of all ages to engage with Noongar culture.

Rooftop Rewritten 
AGWA Rooftop | 18 March – 18 April
Six Aboriginal writers and curators respond to the sculptural works that sit atop the Gallery building, all of which are by non-Indigenous artists. This project not only invites a different way to think about these sculptures but also demonstrates the importance of culturally diverse speakers and narratives in the western art domain.

Event Program
Across the month-long program, AGWA is programming a series of artist talks, music, and workshops. A program lineup will be announced closer to the launch on BlakLight on 18 March.

Colonised countries have been reckoning with their histories for centuries, and art is a powerful way to spark conversations about some of the issues that affect First Nations people and communities who were and continue to be impacted. BlakLight also offers a different lens on viewing the world, and provides an opportunity to invite all Australian community members to come together, acknowledge our shared histories, and engage in truth-telling around national and cultural identity.

Clothilde Bullen
AGWA Curator and Head of Indigenous Programs
AGWA is closed until 16 October for a final stage of redevelopment works. Details