A newsletter about art from Western Australia


The Holy Grail

24 October 2020
A response by Danni McGrath to White Line Fever by Matt Aitken and Lyndon Blue
Next Wave Festival

I have two stories that demonstrate the fact that, while I pretend to know things about footy, I actually have no fucking clue. Both of which strangely revolve around the Geelong Cats.

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8 October 2020
Reflections on Nollamara by Matt Aitken to celebrate a new mural by Seantelle Walsh and Sioux Tempestt

Mei Swan and I have been living in the Nollamara area for a couple of years. I met Seantelle once a few years ago. I love this new work at Des Penman, and I love our new neighbourhood, so wanted to pen a few thoughts about this place.

😱 Nollamara means black kangaroo paw according to the City of Stirling. But, the Primary School, Bowls Club and Seniors Centre all have red and green kangaroo paw logos. I haven’t asked any Elders about the colour bit yet.

🌾 I accidentally joined the Nollaroos footy club reserves this season after 14 seasons off. Got some boots on sale from Jim Kidd and spent a few months trying to remember how to kick straight.
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Perth Elections

27 September 2020
Some thoughts on the City of Perth 2020 Elections by Kelly Fliedner

Semaphore is edited from Whadjuk country in the city of Boorloo. We recognise the traditional owners of this place and acknowledge that sovereignty was never ceded. And yet, the infrastructure of the settler colonial state informs and inflects our own current reflections on art, and ongoing political questions matter to the daily lives of everyone here. In Semaphore we consider a range of perspectives, be they white settler or not, amateur or professional, urban or regional. What we appreciate most is the ability to be in conversation with what this place might be, and how to make it better for all. That is why we continue to write about a plethora of art; why we published our resource list for Indigenous Lives Matter; and, why we think there can be no peace in the statue wars until there is peace in the justice system. This is why we also recognise that we want systemic change even as we vote on elected representatives, follow road signs and local laws, and make our way as best we can through the messy quotidian reality of living here.

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Judging Cossack

16 September 2020
A dispatch from the Cossack Art Awards by Sharmila Wood

A traditional owner told me that she never visits Cossack at night because of ghosts and spirits. They sweep through the abandoned pearling town after dark and drown it in sorrow and despair. A search of the archive soon reveals accounts of Aboriginal men, women and children who were enslaved to work as pearl divers. This  practice of ‘blackbirding’ is well documented and involved the capture of Aboriginal people for forced labor. In Tien Tsin Harbour, just near Cossack, this practice included Asian people, some of whom were also indentured from Malaysia, Indonesia, Singapore, Brunei and southern Thailand, but all known collectively as ‘Malays. Eighty luggers operated here at Cossack in the 1870s during a time where mother-of-pearl was considered fashionable as inlay in accessories, instruments, furniture and home-wares.

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The Art Writing Group is back in 2021!
This collaboration between the Perth Festival and Semaphore creates a space to think through and experiment with what ‘art writing’ is, and what it might offer art and all its various audiences. For more information, and an archive of the Group’s work, click here ︎

Indigenous Lives Matter:
a West Australian resource list

Semaphore stands in solidarity with Indigenous people, especially traditional owners in what is called Western Australia and the Whadjuk Noongar people of Boorloo boodjar where this journal is made. We respect their culture, their custodianship and their continuing contribution to our community. This feels more important than an acknowledgement in this moment, and perhaps it always should have. As we work toward decarceration and asserting the rights of Indigenous people here, we think it is important to share this resource list. We hope it can be of value for our community to educate themselves, to provide resources that help make change, and continue to act as allies in the fight for justice and healing. This means recognising that Indigenous people are leaders and that we learn the most when we are open and engaged. We believe that the system must change, and there is a lot of work to do in advocating for a better city and state. Please read broadly, seek out organisations and events, make a donation, come to a protest, write a letter, and provide sustained support for Indigenous people because Indigenous Lives Matter. 

Continue to this resource list...

Kaya. We acknowledge the Whadjuk People of Boorloo boodja who are the traditional owners of the land where Semaphore is made. We respect their culture, their custodianship, and their continuing contribution to the life of this city and this region. That includes recognising and respecting sovereignty while working in solidarity towards a treaty and supporting ongoing connection to country. That means linguistic rights, economic opportunity, and artistic endeavour. To their Elders, past, present and emerging, we say thanks.