Q&A: Revealed Curator Erin Coates

Published on April 5, 2018
Categories - Blog, Events, Featured, Q&A

The Revealed Exhibition at Fremantle Arts Centre features works by more than 80 of the best new and emerging WA Aboriginal artists, showcasing the diverse and vibrant state of contemporary Aboriginal art. All works in the exhibition are for sale.

Erin Coates is in charge of coordinating and curating Special Projects at Fremantle Arts Centre. This year it includes coordinating the entire Revealed event. Kira caught up with Erin ahead of the exhibition and WA Aboriginal Art Market.

“I truly believe there is something for everyone in this year’s show. I hope people will be blown away by it.” – Erin Coates

Cynthia Burke from Warakurna (WA), 2017. Photograph by Rhett Hammerton. © Tjanpi Desert Weavers, NPY Women’s Council

When did you decide on a career in the arts?

Like many people in the arts, I never really specifically chose this career. I have always been an artist and wanted to work in the arts while maintaining my practice. At a certain point, maybe 5 years ago, I suddenly realised that I had kind of fallen into curating and really loved it. I’m driven to set up new collaborations between different artists and organisations, to support and facilitate these project through to fruition. And working at Fremantle Arts Centre has allowed me to do this.  

What do you love about your job?

Almost everything! I work with a small but amazing team. I’m constantly inspired by the artists we show. And I have to push myself to develop my skills in project managing, writing, getting funding, curating. The challenges keep me very engaged in this role.

Patsy Mudgedell, Dogs on edge (detail), 2018, gouache, colour texta and black fineliner on cartridge paper, 29.7 x 42cm

Curating and creating art – how do you find the two pursuits influence one another?

That is a tricky one to answer. I starting curating my own shows with my friends to get my art into galleries and unconventional spaces, and so I’ve always had a very hands-on approach to curating, and that is still the case. I see my creative practice as separate to my role at FAC, however these two spheres of my life have various overlaps and ways they influence each other.

What can visitors expect from Revealed this year?

Revealed is a standout show this year! There are so many exciting new works, ambitious installations, bold experiments, finely wrought objects, gorgeous paintings. I truly believe there is something for everyone in this year’s show. I hope people will be blown away by it.

Revealed WA Aboriginal Art Market 2017. Photography by Jessica Wyld.

How has it evolved over time?

It has grown in many ways;  the whole level of professionalism in the exhibition, the diversity of mediums, and the number independent Aboriginal artists participating, as well as new Aboriginal art centres coming on board. At its heart though, it is still very much a celebration of new and emerging Aboriginal WA artists. They are the real stars of the show. 

What advice would you give our readers about how to select, frame and care for artworks purchased at the Revealed Marketplace? 

If it’s a work on paper, go to a good framer who will use archival matte boards and handle the work properly. I cringe when I see cheaper framers who have glued down prints. Canvases are perhaps more forgiving and require less decision making.

Revealed WA Aboriginal Art Market 2017. Photography by Jessica Wyld.

Favourite WA-based artist run initiative (ARI)?

Paper Mountain. PSAS. Moana (it has closed .. but a reanimation is in the works I hear!)

Which local creatives do you admire?

Too many to list! Come to Revealed and you’ll see some of my new heroes.

Troopy artwork, Daisy Japulija, Billabongs (detail), 2017, acrylic on poylcarbonate sheet © Mangkaja Arts. Troopy photograph © Mangkaja Arts. Fitzroy Crossing landscape, 2017. Photograph by Trent Jansen.

What’s your favourite way to spend a day off?

Rock climbing, snorkelling, bushwalking with my dog, making props for my video art, going to film festivals. Erin

Aboriginal art centres and independent Aboriginal artists from across the state will be selling original, affordable works at the Revealed WA Aboriginal Art Market at Fremantle Arts Centre on Saturday 7 April 2018 from 10am to 5pm.

This is a once-a-year opportunity to buy art directly from emerging and established Aboriginal artists, with works starting from $50 and all profits from sales returning to the makers and art centres.

Browse a range of craft and artworks, including paintings, textiles, woven items, artefacts, clothing, ceramics, jewellery and more in the beautiful surrounds of FAC’s Front Garden. Entry is free. The Revealed Exhibition continues to Sunday 20 May.

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