Revealed hits Fremantle Arts Centre this weekend, with a celebration of Aboriginal art in Western Australia. With an exhibition running from 8 April to 21 May, visitors have a chance to see paintings, prints, wood carvings, photography, textiles, video, weaving and more by over 75 of the best new and emerging WA Aboriginal artists. Plus, the annual Revealed WA Aboriginal Art Market will transform the Fremantle Arts Centre Front Garden into a bustling marketplace this Saturday 8 April with Aboriginal art centres from across the state selling original, affordable works.
One of the artists involved in Revealed Exhibition is young Noongar man Peter Farmer. Claire caught up with Peter to chat about his two passions – art and footy.
As a child, what did you want to be when you grew up?
I definitely knew that I wanted to be an artist. And a football player… who doesn’t want to be a football player? I wanted to do something I enjoyed, which is why I picked those.
You are following both these passions. Have there been challenges so far?
It is like anything, you need to keep chipping away at it. It won’t happen straight away but the end goal is what everybody strives for. I am still hopeful that I can push to the elite level of AFL and I am motivated to see how far I can take my art.
Are there challenges in balancing the two passions, being that they are so different? Or do they feed one another?
I definitely find one feeds the other; it works so well for me. When I play good football my art goes up a notch.
I am a non-drinker, I don’t smoke, I don’t do drugs. I’ve tried a lot of different sports, and exercise gives a lot of natural endorphins. I focus that energy into my art pieces.
There’s a big drinking culture around sports in Australia, how have you dealt with that pressure with your lifestyle choices?
Being an artist is a very indivudual thing. I learnt at a young age, through my art, to know who I am and how to hold myself as a strong individual. I knew what I wanted to be and I was confident in myself.
The Farmer name in WA is synonymous with footy! Are you related to Polly or Jeff? Either way, does having the name bring an extra level of expectation with your sport?
Polly is my grandfather’s first cousin and Jeff is my dad’s first cousin.
It does bring some expectations. Being a relative of any great name carries pressure. The main thing is to distance yourself from the name and create something for yourself: to carve your own path. I enjoy people talking to me about them and nah doesn’t get annoying – it is a part of who I am and our family. I learnt to enjoy being connected to them. You just have to roll with it.
How has your father Peter impacted your career in visual arts?
I see my father as a role model so I would say he has had a big influence in how I go about my art. He loves watching me play footy, but he has a bigger influence in my art practice. I am constantly talking to him about how I can improve. He has a big impact.
Who, or what, inspires you?
My mother [Miranda Farmer] and father [Peter Farmer]. And my grandfather on my mum’s side. He inspired me to focus on having an education. He told me the importance of education, that not many indigenous people can effectively communicate themselves, often with English as a second language. For me, I grew up around my parents and grandparents learning Nyoongar language.
What ideas and practices inform your artwork?
Everywhere I go I look at it from an artist point of view, I am always looking for new ways to express how I feel, and to express some of my culture. I look at the trees or the birds, or even the ground or sand. Inspiration can come from anywhere. I feel that art isn’t one set idea, it is different emotions, feelings.
My father advised me not to stay in one area with my art. I loved drawing but he told be to branch out and try sculpture or watercolour, because sticking to one medium can make you stagnant.
I also go to the ocean a bit. If I am stuck for ideas I sit at the beach and usually get a lot of good ideas from there.
What do you love about Perth?
I love the beach. It has the best beaches in all of Australia. I’ve been to Melbourne, Sydney, up to Darwin, and everywhere around Australia. I love the beach.
I also love Perth because I think it is unique. It has a range of different cultures. When talking to people on the street, and to friends I have at university, I find it really interesting learning about different people.
What does Perth need?
If I could change one thing I’d definitely put Aboriginal history and culture in the school syllabus. I meet non-indigenous people and they ask questions, it is clear they have not learnt about Aboriginal culture at school. It is good that they ask questions, but there is a disconnect that we need to fix.
Any local bands you are into right now?
Hot Liquid. My uncle is the drummer, it is a pretty good band.
What have you got in store for Revealed?
I have a couple of paintings in Revealed. Having them in the exhibition is extraordinary, it is a great opportunity to get my work out there. Most of the work I do are commissions, so it is great to be able to express who I am as an artist. I am very grateful for this opportunity. Peter
Revealed Exhibition runs from 8 April to 21 May at Fremantle Arts Centre, with the gallery open daily. It is free to attend. The Revealed Aboriginal Art Market takes place in the FAC Front Garden this Sunday 8 April from 10am to 5pm. FAC are also hosting an artist talk this Friday 7 April from 10am-12pm with senior and emerging artists from unique communities and regions across WA – a chance to hear more from Peter and other artists from around the state. Head to www.fac.org.au for more information.