Across the water – indigenous art exhibition

Jemma Unghango's Kira Kiro Gather to Celebrate Family artwork

Ochre has been used for thousands of years by Indigenous Australians in ceremonies, rituals, and art. It’s deeply intertwined with cultural practices, representing connections to land, ancestors, and spirituality and even trade.

An exhibition about to open at Earlywork in South Fremantle titled Across the Water includes over thirty ochre paintings from four remote community art centres in Northern Australia.

For more than a decade, Artitja Fine Art Gallery has hosted numerous visits by artists from Pirlingimpi, a small community on the Tiwi Islands, and in so doing has introduced the art and cultural significance of the Tiwi designs to Perth audiences. 

Across the Water links these artists to the mainland by presenting the styles of two East Kimberley art centres; Waringarri Arts based in Kununurra and the Kira Kiro Artists at Kalumburu. All three use ochre as the medium, each with a unique and distinctive outcome.

“Many of the Tiwi paintings are based on body paint designs used in ceremonies, and are intricately detailed. The Wandjina and Gwion Gwion paintings from the Kalumburu artists are inspired by the  ancient rock art imagery abundant in the area, whereas the style of the Waringarri artists tends to appear minimalist, showing riverbeds and important sites.” explains Gallery Director Anna Kanaris

The Waringarri art centre based in Kununurra was established as a result of the building of Lake Argyle in the late 1960s leading to  the removal of Aboriginal people from their Country to live on the edge of town.  Painting became a way for many cultural leaders to vicariously maintain connection to the sacred places of their Country.

For the first time in Perth, an exciting inclusion into the exhibition will be the display of eight exquisitely hand crafted bird sculptures, by husband and wife duo Irene Henry and Harold Goodman from Kakadu.

Artitja Fine Art Gallery is dedicated to showcasing contemporary Indigenous art from remote communities across Australia. The gallery serves as a bridge between artists and collectors, fostering a deeper appreciation for First Nations art and culture, and is a signatory to the Indigenous Art Code.

Across the Water is free to the public. 

Opening Friday June 7 –  68pm. Continues to June 30.

Opening hours are Wednesday—Sunday, 10am—4pm. Exhibiting at Earlywork, 330 South Terrace, South Fremantle. The selling exhibition will also be available online at