Words: Charlotte Middleton
The Art Gallery of Western Australia (AGWA) has appointed esteemed Wardandi (Nyoongar) and Badimaya (Yamatji) Aboriginal curator Clothilde Bullen to the position of curator and head of Indigenous Programs. The appointment marks a new era for Western Australia’s premier arts institution, as it reevaluates its approach to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander art and cultures, in line with global First Nations narratives and Indigenous-led change.
Joining AGWA’s executive team, Bullen aims to embed Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander knowledge and practices within AGWA in a way that will lead to meaningful engagement and the revitalisation of programming and collaborations. She will strengthen the gallery’s connections to Indigenous communities and work collaboratively with key stakeholders to initiate significant projects embedding Indigenous protocols and ways of thinking.
Bullen brings a wealth of curatorial and leadership experience, taking up the new role after close to five years as senior curator of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Collections and Exhibitions at the Museum of Contemporary Art, Australia (MCA). A key player within the Indigenous arts ecosystem, she has for many years worked closely with artists and arts communities across the country to support and promote Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islands art.
In addition to serving on multiple artistic boards, Bullen was one of five artist-curator teams selected as finalists to curate the Australian Pavilion for the Venice Biennale in 2018, and has attracted critical acclaim for her curatorial work for the MCA.
AGWA director Colin Walker said: “We’re delighted to welcome Clothilde to AGWA as we move forward with our strategic plan and establish our goals to support and promote Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander art.”
“With the State Government’s commitment to a new Aboriginal Cultural Centre, a new film studio development, regional exhibitions, and a revitalised Perth Cultural Centre, Bullen will have an integral role in identifying the stories and artistic capacity that contribute to the development of each project, as well as AGWA initiatives, ensuring that our cultural venues are places for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people, not only their art.”
Bullen commenced at AGWA on 20 September 2021. She will be supported by an associate curator of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander art (yet to be announced).
This article was originally published 21 September 2021.
Image: Portrait of Clothilde Bullen by Jamie James. Courtesy: AGWA.