Alternative take on history

Headshot of Carly Laden
Carly LadenBroome Advertiser
Gary Smith is a featured artist at The Alternative Archive.
Camera IconGary Smith is a featured artist at The Alternative Archive. Credit: Ben Houston Photography, Ben Houston

Artists, photographers and curators across regional WA have come together to develop a new exhibition that challenges artists to explore local history and stories to tell them in a new way.

The Alternative Archive is set to open at the Sailmaker’s Shed at the Broome Museum from Friday, June 14-Saturday, June 22 as part of a groundbreaking Statewide series of interconnected exhibitions.

The Broome exhibition features contemporary works by 10 established and emerging artists from Broome, Ardyaloon and Wyndham, and is co-curated by local artist-curators Suzy French, Chrissy Carter and Naomie Hatherley.

Hatherley said developing the Alternative Archive came about when the Kimberley Art Network was invited to join the project.

She said the Broome exhibition was set to feature a plethora of significant artworks.

“Each artwork concept functions as a tantalising thread, inviting the viewer into further interest and excavation of local history and perspectives through a range of unique and creative representations,” she said.

“From the contested land grab of the Lacepede Islands by Chrissy Carter to a traditional connection to Wolf Creek Crater country by Bernie Shepherd, Dreaming stories by June Djiagween and homage to Riddell Beach by Jerrilee Bretag, the exhibition will traverse a Kimberley landscape as broad as it is deeply layered.

“The exhibition also includes references to the burgeoning West Kimberley Women’s Football League by me, a lace and aluminium interpretation of the Dutch women and children refugees shot out of the sky over Roebuck Bay by Suzy French, an exploration of the Catholic Church’s multicultural fellowship in ceramics by Rowena Strain, and a photographic essay of the Broome landscape and stories by professional photographer Ben Houston. We will also have a special talking tour by carpenter and artist Lachlan Fraser, who rebuilt the Sailmaker’s Shed for the museum.

“He also constructed a scaled model of a Broome pearling shed from a century ago for the exhibition.”

Hatherley said it had been a privilege working alongside artists who were completely dedicated to their art and practice ahead of the exhibition’s opening.

“Everyone has been very positive and encouraging — a wonderful supportive and inspiring atmosphere,” she said.

“We hope our community will be inspired to inquire into local history, to inspire new conversations about the stories that connect us, or the stories that shape us as a town.

“We also hope our community will deepen a knowledge and appreciation of art and our local artists and see the value in arts organisations like KAN in bringing people together through art.

“We want to highlight the cultural capital that artists and museums bring to communities like ours.”

The Alternative Archive will be open to the public at the Sailmaker’s Shed at the Broome Museum from Friday, June 14 until Saturday, June 22, from 10am-4pm.

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