Waringarri artists from Kununurra returned triumphant from a recent visit to Shanghai after two successful exhibitions, including the sale of all 41 artworks taken to China, and ten days of sightseeing, museum visits and shopping.

The popular M50 Shanghai Arts District was abuzz with talk of the new exhibition of Australian Indigenous art held at OFOTO/ANART Gallery. The precinct of more than 50 galleries includes several international galleries, one of which was pleased to take on the presentation of art from Australia’s East Kimberley region. Huang Yunhe of OFOTO/ANART Gallery said, We are very happy with this step in developing Chinese Australian relationships through the arts. And it’s hoped that future exhibitions will result.

The survey exhibition of 41 artworks by 24 artists from Kununurra, Warmun and Kalumburu was first presented to Chinese audiences at the Salvo Hotel in downtown Shanghai where both Chinese and Australian government officials, embassy personnel and executives from the Zhongfu Investment Group celebrated a relationship that is involved in the development in the East Kimberley’s Ord Expansion project.

The Shanghai Zhongfu Group was last November appointed as the preferred proponent to deliver the long-awaited Stage 2 of the Ord-East Kimberley Expansion Project with a 50 year lease over 15,200ha of high-value irrigated agricultural land even though it has no prior agricultural experience. Shanghai Zhongfu, through its Australian subsidiary, Kimberley Agricultural Investment, intends to invest up to $700m to develop the area for large-scale sugar production, including a sugar mill. It’s intended that around four million tons of sugar cane and 500,000 tons of sugar crystal will be produced for export each year. Negotiations are expected finalise in coming weeks.

While the entire collection was purchased by Mr Wu Puingai, the Chairman of Shanghai Zhongfu Investment Group, it was agreed that it was also essential to expose the powerful contemporary aesthetic of the east Kimberley artists to a broader Chinese audience as a way of developing relationships and opportunities with China.

The $200,000 art investment by Mr Wu will be displayed in his home and offices.

Mr Wu’s generosity and understanding of Waringarri Aboriginal Arts long term goals is greatly appreciated. said Cathy Cummins, Arts & Business Manager. The opportunity to exhibit in a new market and be so well received at both exhibitions has provided Waringarri Aboriginal Arts with a collective confidence.

Artists Peggy Griffiths, Dora Griffiths, Agnes Armstrong and Louise Malarvie who travelled to Shanghai experienced a new culture, Chinese art, Shanghai city lights and a wealth of new ideas. Artists confidently shared their stories with audiences at both exhibitions and celebrated the spiritual connection to their art with a Lirrga performance at the OFOTO/ANART Gallery opening.

It has been an amazing trip for us, said Dora Griffiths, artist and Vice Chairperson of Waringarri Aboriginal Arts. We enjoyed the whole experience “ the Chinese art museums, the sightseeing and being looked after so well by our hosts. With a shining smile she adds, We were so proud and excited to be able to share our art.

The financial boost to Waringarri Aboriginal Arts will ensure the continuation of programs that support artist engagement and studio access. It is important that we keep providing opportunities for our artists and community to share their culture with the world, added Chairperson Ben Ward, These kind of opportunities will encourage new and young artists.

The opportunity to exhibit in China was supported by WA Department for Culture and the Arts, Shire of Wyndham East Kimberley, MG Corporation and the Department of Regional Development and Lands.

Situated in the heart of Miriwoong country at Kununurra, Waringarri Aboriginal Arts is the first indigenous owned art centre established in the Kimberley region and one of the longest continuously operating art centres in Australia.

URL: Waringarri Arts