New art centre puts Yalgoo on Indigenous art tourism map

Headshot of Lisa Favazzo
Lisa FavazzoMidwest Times
Artist Charmaine Simpson in her Yalgoo studio.
Camera IconArtist Charmaine Simpson in her Yalgoo studio. Credit: Midwest Times

Despite a challenging first year, one little Mid West art centre is punching above its weight in showcasing local talent, teaching visitors about the town, developing public art and getting the community involved.

The Yalgoo Arts & Cultural Centre opened in late 2019, meaning it did not exactly hit the ground running.

But Yalgoo Shire executive assistant Elisha Hodder said more than 10 artists now worked in the centre, with plenty of other community members involved in workshops and group projects.

Yalgoo shire executive assistant Elisha Hodder, artist Charmaine Simpson and Yalgoo Art Centre trainee Rhiannon Hodder.
Camera IconYalgoo shire executive assistant Elisha Hodder, artist Charmaine Simpson and Yalgoo Art Centre trainee Rhiannon Hodder. Credit: Midwest Times

“We want to let the community know all the different types of art you can create,” she said, with the centre hosting workshops on felting, mosaics, resin and tie-dye with adults.

Senior artists have had work featured in Reveal — an annual exhibition for emerging Aboriginal artists — and recently had a piece bought by the Art Gallery of Western Australia.

Sisters Charmaine, Margaret and Phyllis Simpson are three of the senior artists creating hype around Yalgoo’s art scene and encouraging others to put paint brush to canvas.

Charmaine said she painted using the colours of the First Nations flag, incorporating texture and shapes to create something unique. She used to send her artwork 124km away to Wirnda Barna in Mount Magnet.

Artist Charmaine Simpson in her Yalgoo studio.
Camera IconArtist Charmaine Simpson in her Yalgoo studio. Credit: Midwest Times

She said it was great no longer to have to drive back and forth.

With Reconciliation Week around the corner, the group plan to present tapping sticks and a flag designed by the town’s youngsters and a large mural local creatives designed digitally and then painted from a projection. The art centre is also blossoming into a successful business.

“We’ve sold around $10,000 of art through the centre,” Elisha said. Since art centre manager trainee and Broome TAFE business student Rhiannon Hodder was hired, she has kept careful records of sales and tourist numbers, with a view to growing the business.

According to Ms Hodder, early figures show this winter would likely be much bigger than last. She said as many as 15 people had stopped in the town and popped their heads into the visitor centre every day since the weather cooled down.

“(Tourists) are interested in what we do here and sometimes ask about the stories behind the painting,” she said.

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