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Over 250 people came together on Friday 16 February to celebrate the launch of the Port Hedland Courthouse Gallery’s 2018 exhibition season, with the opening of Pujiman, a collaborative project between Pilbara art centres Martumili Artists and Spinifex Hill Studios.
Regional Development Minister Hon. Alannah MacTiernan MLC attended and opened the exhibition.
Spinifex Hill Studios manager Greg Taylor said the artists were thrilled with the support shown by the local community for Pujiman.
“This unique collaboration between the two art centres has been years in the making so to see it all come together is very rewarding for all the artists” said Mr Taylor.
“This exhibition pays tribute to the senior pujiman (desert born) who have been the foundation of both art centres. The greater project created environments where the elders can safely share knowledge, stories and techniques with the younger artists who translated these stories into new media.”
Shire of East Pilbara President Lynne Craigie echoed Mr Taylor’s sentiments and was pleased to see the high attendance numbers for the opening.
“Pujiman is a project that pays respect to the senior artists and empowers our younger artists to celebrate and take pride in their cultural and artistic lineage” she said.
“Young arts workers from Martumili and Spinifex Hill have worked together to curate and install the exhibition, and will continue to be ambassadors for the project as it tours around the state. The exhibition will open in Newman in May, then tour Western Australia throughout 2018 and 2019 with the generous support of Art on the Move.”
Pilbara Development Commission Director of People, Place and Community Trish Barron said the Commission was proud to support a project which was shining a light on the importance of Aboriginal art and culture in regional communities.
“Building a strong creative industry in the Pilbara is an important part of the diversification of the region’s economic base. It provides meaningful employment opportunities, particularly for Aboriginal people, while the growing network of art centres across the Pilbara are becoming a major tourist attraction,” Ms Barron said.
“Pujiman is one of the many projects the Pilbara Development Commission is supporting to empower younger artists and to ensure Aboriginal culture continues to be an essential part of our cultural fabric.”
BHP Manager Pilbara Communities Chris Cottier said: “BHP is proud to be the principal partner for Spinifex Hill Artists and Martumili Artists. Art and creativity are powerful methods for bringing people together and creating vibrant communities. BHP has been proud to see Aboriginal artists flourish and share their stories and culture. We look forward to seeing this exhibition tour Western Australia and for the rest of the state to appreciate the work from Pilbara Aboriginal artists.”
Pujiman is exhibiting at the Courthouse Gallery from Saturday 17 February until Saturday 28 April.
The works can be viewed online at www.courthousegallery.com.au
Learn Me by Pilbara-based artist Ruth Leigh is running alongside Pujiman and includes portraits of the Aboriginal artists she has worked with during her time in the region.