Desert art on display

A collection of  work by leading indigenous women artists from central and western Australian desert country will have its first Victorian exhibition at Warrnambool Art Gallery.

From Saturday about 60 pieces entitled Strong Women, Strong Painting, Strong Culture will be featured including paintings, baskets, sculptures and etchings by 42 artists.

There’s even a model of a rushing camel complete with genuine camel hair, a cat and dog made from old blankets and a bush turkey.

They form part of  the  collection of  Deborah Sims and her husband Matt Dickson, of the Hunter Valley, NSW, who are keen to share their passion for indigenous art.

“A key feature is that all the works are ethically sourced from Aboriginal-owned and managed art centres in central and western Australia,”  said Ms Sims as she assisted Warrnambool gallery curators yesterday.

“It’s important to know that Aboriginal artists are remunerated properly.

“What’s featured in Warrnambool shows the leadership of women, some of whom are very old.

“We also have other themes in our collection, including a section of work by males.

“Matt and I are very pleased to see it here and we’ll both be down again for International Women’s Day on March 8.”

The exhibition will later  go to Sale and Melbourne.

Warrnambool gallery curator Murray Bowes said he believed it was the first time such a comprehensive collection of Aboriginal work had been in the city.

“It will look fantastic,”  he said.

For Ms Sims, who formerly worked with the Australian Broadcasting Authority, and her husband, a former museum curator, Aboriginal art is a recent passion sparked by a visit to Newcastle to see the Laverty collection in 2008.

“It blew our minds. We became very interested and wanted to collect pieces ourselves,”  she said.

“We buy from leading galleries in capital cities and visit  Alice Springs annually for the Desert Mob exhibition where we buy pieces.”

Their first exhibition in Cessnock for International Women’s Day in March triggered a chain of requests from other venues across the nation.

The Warrnambool show runs from Saturday to March 16 with free admission.

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