Desert River Sea: Portraits of the Kimberley – The Exhibition Experience

Desert River Sea: Portraits of the Kimberley – The Exhibition Experience

Desert River Sea: Portraits of the Kimberley is an exciting, experimental, and current look at Aboriginal art from the Kimberley, Western Australia. The show brings together over 150 new and old works that reveal the many faces and features of contemporary Aboriginal art from the region.

This landmark exhibition celebrates the conclusion of a six-year visual arts research and development project between the Art Gallery of WA and Aboriginal artists and art centres in the Kimberley.

At the heart of the exhibition is a group of eight commissions. Made by more than forty artists from six art centres and three independent artists, the commissions present as eight installations that are as diverse as much as they are alike. Each installation represents a different journey toward the same destination of individual and collective cultural expression. Experimental in both intent and form, the installations range from leather cow hides to video and animation, to paintings in sand, ochre and acrylic, to glass works, drawing and photography, as well as small and large-scale geometric designs on pearl shell and steel. These works capture the creativity, imagination and texture of Kimberley art and culture.

The commissions are presented beside works of art from the WA State Art Collection and private and art centre collections. Shown together, the works highlight some of the most significant works of art by revered Kimberley artists, past and present.

Guided Tours 
11am and 2pm, Thursdays and Sundays
2pm, Fridays and Saturdays

Join one of our Gallery Guides on a tour that looks closely at works that communicate the artists' ideas about place, Country, identity and belonging.

Desert River Sea Publication | $49.99
Published in partnership with UWA Publishing, a 240 page publication complements the exhibition and documents the Desert River Sea visual arts project and the artists and art centres of the Kimberley region. Purchase a copy from the Art Gallery Shop.

Art Centres/Artists involved in the exhibition

Warlayirti Artists (Balgo)
Darrell & Garry Sibosado (Lombadina)
Daniel Walbidi (Bidyadanga)
Kira Kiro Art Centre (Kalumburu)
Warmun Art Centre (Warmun)
Waringarri Aboriginal Arts (Kununurra)
Mowanjum Aboriginal Art & Culture Centre (Derby)
Mangkaja Arts Resource Agency (Fitzroy Crossing)

Visit Desert River Sea: Kimberley Art Then and Now for all the details on the project and artists involved.

Exhibition Highlights

About Desert River Sea Project

Desert River Sea: Kimberley Art Then and Now is a ground-breaking six-year visual arts initiative developed by the Art Gallery of Western Australia with funding support from the Rio Tinto Community Investment Fund. Its aim is to bridge the cultural and geographic distance between Aboriginal artists of the diverse Kimberley region, the Gallery in Perth and national and international audiences, thereby forging a network of cultural and artistic exchange and understanding.

Born out of close consultation with senior artists, art centres and community members, the project includes the development of a comprehensive digital portal, a Visual Arts Leaders professional development program and research and documentation. It will conclude with a publication and landmark exhibition in 2019 celebrating the region’s art and culture. celebrates the art of the Kimberley region, as well as its diverse cultures, the breathtaking landscapes and narratives which tell of its creation, and the people who call this country home. Over 500 artworks are displayed here. With content updated regularly, this online portal is a compelling resource for all those seeking inspiration from, and information about, Kimberley art.

Desert River Sea TV

★★★★☆ 4.5

This exhibition is buzzing with authenticity; it is fresh and considered; it is inclusive and empowering and most importantly, this six year project leaves a legacy that will be felt for years to come.

Gina Farley
Arts Hub

Project Partner

Rio Tinto logo

Funding Partners

DLGSC logo     Australia Council logo

This project is supported by the State Government through the Royalties for Regions program and the Australian Government through the Australia Council, its arts funding and advisory body.


Perth Festival logo    Wesfarmers Arts logo

Presented in association with Perth Festival


On Saturday 27 August, the Gallery is open 10am-3pm only as we prepare for the AGWA Foundation Gala supporting women in the arts. Some exhibition access will be disrupted with two Tracks We Share ground floor galleries closed. AGWA Rooftop bar will be closed, reopening at 2pm Sunday. Details