Shedding, dwelling, making: The artist collective We Must Get Together Some Time
By Gregory Pryor
An essay printed in the exhibition catalogue We Must Get Together Some Time, 2021, edited by Perdita Phillips and Annette Nykiel
(The text below is an extract from the catalogue essay)
A gentle and respectful approach permeates the ethos of WMGTST and continues a tradition of artist’s camps in Western Australia that have been associated with Edith Cowan University (ECU) over more than three decades. The textile artist and lecturer Elsje King ran many camps for textile students which extolled a similar approach, engendering many of the graduates with a deeper understanding of making work in response to the landscape in Western Australia. Nalda Searles and Nien Schwarz continued this tradition, and both have been influential figures behind the formation of WMGTST. Annette Nykiel, the current coordinator of WMGTST, completed her PHD with Nien Schwarz at ECU and their jointly curated exhibition field working slow making at Spectrum Project Space in 2016 provided a template for the current project.
Judith Dinham and Glen Phillips had initiated a master’s course at ECU in 1996 titled Landscape and You, which became a twelve-part television series produced by WMGTST member George Karpathakis in the late 1990s. Landscape and You combined a truly diverse range of voices in relation to the landscape of WA, something that WMGTST has also been keen to continue, with artists, academics, scientists, writers, filmmakers, photographers, and slow-makers all making an important contribution to our understanding of an ancient and threatened land. This link to an academic institution with a strong reputation for teaching and learning is important and several unique workshops by WMGTST members are an important initiative that runs parallel to the exhibition.
With the slow and concerning erosion of creative arts programs in universities nationally, WMGTST are filling an important gap in how creative practitioners respond to and elevate awareness of the threatened landscapes of WA. The con- densing of staffing, resources and curricula has meant that art school camps, once a mainstay of most art courses offered in Australia have been cut from programs for being too expensive and risky to run. This collective is developing a very committed model for how and why they are rele- vant now and the current exhibition needs to be applauded for the contribution of all involved and the way they have shared with us the deep, slow time at the heart of country.
Gregory Pryor 2021