Aboriginal Australian art history gets the scholarship it deserves through the South Australian Museum

04 November 2016

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A passion and curiosity for Aboriginal art and history has led Cillín Perera and his partner Giuliana Picco to form an inspiring partnership with the South Australian Museum, through the Perera-Picco Fund.

Mr Perera and Ms Picco are generously supporting a project that will ensure Australian art history doesn’t fall through the gaps of cross-cultural translation. The Perera-Picco Fund will enable a new generation of writers and curators to work alongside Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander artists, producing a dynamic and comprehensive scholarship.

This partnership will give voice to the complexity of Indigenous art, while making a significant contribution to art history in Australia.

With a generous sponsorship of $100,000 over five years, the Perera-Picco Fund will allow Professor John Carty – Professor of Anthropology at the South Australian Museum – and his team to work with writers, researchers, publishers and artists to properly document the careers and stories behind some of our greatest living artists.

“Thanks to the generosity and vision of Cillín Perera and Giuliana Picco, we can push the conversation along, provoke debate, and support a new generation of scholarship around incredibly important artists and movements”, Professor Carty said.

Mr Perera sees this partnership as an opportunity to not only support a lifelong passion for the visual arts, but also as a chance to help drive necessary cultural work within Australia, after an international business career spanning the last 20 years abroad.

“I left Melbourne when I was 18 to study at Harvard University, and discovering Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander art has become part of my journey back to Australia, a ‘homecoming’ so to speak. When Giuli and I met John in Darwin earlier this year, we were inspired to begin a conversation with him about the role we could play in the promotion of greater knowledge and understanding of Aboriginal Australia’s rich, diverse – and continuing – artistic traditions.”

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Well known for his impassioned rhetoric on the importance of crossing the art­–anthropological divide, Professor Carty met Mr Perera and Ms Picco having just spoken on the topic at the Telstra Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Art Awards in Darwin in August.

“Aboriginal Australian art has plenty written about it, but it lacks the rigorous and engaged scholarship that we expect and enjoy for artists in ’Western’ art history”, Professor Carty said.

“If we don’t work with living artists now, it won’t be possible to produce meaningful exhibitions or write about Aboriginal Australian art history in the future.”

“Cillín and Giuliana are inspired by what they have found in their travels back to Australia. They are also passionate about investing in the development and promotion of Australian Aboriginal culture. The South Australian Museum can help them do that.”

The fund will support Aboriginal art projects and scholarship, and will also promote the resilience of the industry though industry organisations and advocacy. Among the first projects to be supported will be a landmark book about the Spinifex Artists: their history and their art history.