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Wesfarmers Arts Indigenous Leadership Program

Aboriginal Arts Development Officers, Aleshia Lonsdale (Arts OutWest) and Anthony Walker (Arts Northern Rivers) have been in Canberra this week, participating in the Wesfarmers Arts Indigenous Leadership Program.

Both artists were selected for the highly competitive ten day program, which saw ten aboriginal arts professionals from around Australia gather to the National Gallery of Australia. The program provides a unique opportunity to learn about the visual arts and museum sector, with leading Indigenous Arts figures facilitating and mentoring participants. It will explore the Australian Indigenous arts sector and the myriad of issues that impact on it and to shape discussions on the future of the sector.

Cara Kirkwood, Indigenous Program Coordinator at the National Gallery, said, “We’re really proud of this program and many of our Alumni have gone onto other national and international professional opportunities.”

Aleshia is a Mudgee-based Wiradjuri artist started with regional arts organisation Arts OutWest in 2010 as trainee Aboriginal Arts Development Officer before moving into the full-time role two years ago. Through her role with Arts OutWest, Aleshia provides valuable advice and support to local Aboriginal artists across the NSW Central West, to further develop their practice and assist them progress to a professional arts career. She has developed her skills as a curator and currently manages the collection on show at the Kew-y-Ahn Aboriginal Art Gallery at Hartley Historic Site near Lithgow.

Aleshia also exhibits her own paintings and weaving under her traditional name ‘Tirikee’. She was one of a team of 12 Central West artists to take exhibit work and lead workshops in Derbyshire, England in September for Arts OutWest’s first international project.

Indigenous Arts Officer, Anthony Walker, was also selected for the program. Anthony is a Yiman man who grew up locally in the Byron Shire and started painting in his youth. He learnt his craft from his grandfather Alf Walker, and grandmother Janet Martin of the Gurreng Gurreng language group.

He said, “Participating in The Wesfarmers Arts Indigenous Leadership program will be a fabulous opportunity to gain insight behind the scenes of Australia’s leading art institution. With the schedule of activities to include exhibition planning, curating and media training, I will develop a range of skills which will assist me to further support arts development within the Northern Rivers region. I am excited to be working with the largest Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander art collection in the world.”

Through his role with Arts Northern Rivers Anthony provides advice and support to local Aboriginal artists, to further develop their practice and assist them progress to a professional arts career. ‘Through networking opportunities, I hope to foster relationships between Arts Northern Rivers and major industry contacts, creating more avenues through which we can promote the Aboriginal art of our region’, he said.

Both Aleshia and Anthony have travelled to Canberra fresh from coordinating their respective region’s stalls at the Black Arts Market at Corroboree Sydney.  The Wesfarmers Arts Indigenous Leadership Program is another opportunity to build contacts and connections, which will inform the wonderful work they do in their communities and benefit the artists they support.