Desmond Woodley: Here, there and back again

Official Opening Event: 14 June, 2019

Here, there and back again is a survey exhibition of the life works of senior Noongar artist Desmond Woodley, Curated by Esther McDowell (Kickett).

Encompassing his lived experiences, through time at New Norcia mission as a child, to working on cattle stations, and travelling the vast state of Western Australia, Desmond’s works are powerful and haunting, conveying his perception of life and place.

The chilly winter evening was no match for the warmth that was felt in the room at the opening event on Friday night, as friends, collectors and artists traveled from all corners of Perth city to celebrate Desmond's career and view this extraordinary assemblage of his work.

Presented by DADAA and Ellenbrook Arts, Here, there and back again brings together a collection of works by a prolific artist, whose depiction of country and beings are like no other.

Arts and disability organisation DADAA has supported Desmond for more than a decade – originally as part of his health recovery but more recently to gradually extend a practice that places him back in Country. Ellenbrook Arts provided Desmond with his first exhibition opportunity back in 2007.

DADAA Executive Director David Doyle said that DADAA has invested heavily in its Aboriginal Arts program based at the organisation’s Midland location. “DADAA’s eastern region hub has becoming unique in providing skill development, exhibition opportunities and community engagement for emerging and professional Aboriginal artists with disability,” said Mr Doyle. “Through DADAA’s programming and partnership approach, and with support from the Department of Local Government, Sport and Cultural Industries, Desmond is now able to present a significant body of work to a broad public audience.”

Indigenous Curator Esther McDowell (Kickett) said that Desmond tells his story subtly, presenting a fresh and sure perspective of Bibulmun/Noongar country. She says of the experience: “In being surrounded by Desmond’s work for the past several months, I have begun to see Bibulmun / Noongar country differently thanks to Des’ art. His style is unique and stands with the dynamic practices of contemporary Aboriginal artists that have come to the forefront within Western Australia over the past ten years.”

Screenwest and the Metropolitan Redevelopment Authority have also supported Desmond's work to be placed in Yagan Square, both as an animated showcase on the Digital Tower, and as a permanent mural in the Market Hall.

Here, there and back again is supported by the Department of Local Government, Sports and Cultural Industries.

The exhibition can be viewed at Ellenbrook Arts, 34 Main St, Ellenbrook from 15 June – 28 July, 2019.