Crafting a new way forward

Crafting a new way forward

Regional Arts WA

In September, Regional Arts WA supported 31 regional creatives to attend the inaugural IOTA Indian Ocean Craft Triennial. 

Each person came away with new knowledge, connections, and an even stronger appreciation for the art of craft. We asked some of the attendees about their experience and what it did for them.


Jan Griffiths 

The opportunity to attend IOTA meant a lot to me because I was able to hear and experience what inspires other artists and their art making. Seeing other artists’ works and hearing them talk about their work is inspiring for me.

As an exhibiting artist, I was also very pleased to see the great job the John Curtin Gallery team did in setting up my installation. Seeing my work presented alongside other artists gives me a feeling of pride which is really important for keeping my creativity going.”

Jan Griffiths is an emerging artist working at Waringarri Aboriginal Arts. She was one of 23 artists chosen to exhibit and present at John Curtin Gallery, as part of the Festival. Find out more about Jan on the Waringarri Aboriginal Arts website.

Left photo: Jan Griffiths with her niece and emerging artist Cathy Ward (also a recipient of the IOTA Participation Grants) at the Curiosity of the Cloth event at WA Museum Boola Bardip. Right photo: Jan Griffith’s exhibited work History Beneath the Beauty at the John Curtin Gallery. Photos courtesy Jan Griffiths.


Michelle Slarke 

I came away so inspired – and confident in my practice. I found the conference engaging, thought provoking and relevant. The whole experience reminded me of my own skills, the value of my own practice and professional knowledge, and my position in the Australian art community.”

Michelle Slarke is an artist and cultural worker from Lake Grace. She has exhibited nationally and internationally and facilitated numerous projects that engage and serve local communities and regions. Follow Michelle’s work on Instagram.


Jen Mitchell 

I found the Curtin University Curator Tour by Maggie Baxter to be one of the most stimulating creative experiences of the conference.

I appreciated the way she created individual spaces for each work of art and used lighting to wonderful effect to highlight both the small and monumentally sized work in the exhibition.

I am curating two exhibitions between now and the end of the year, and I know that this has stimulated the creative aesthetic that I will bring to these exhibitions. This not only impacts on me and my creative practice, but also on the 25 other artists with whom I am working in these exhibitions.”

Jen Mitchell is a jeweller, painter and curator living and working in Denmark. Her silver jewellery project, She Drinks the Wild Air, seeks to “explore and celebrate the drive toward wilderness and wanderlust in our modern society, and examines feminine identity in wild spaces”. Discover Jen’s work on her website.

Photo: Jen Mitchell (right) with fellow IOTA Participation Grant recipients Nathan Gardiner and Tanya Lee at the IOTA Regional WA Gathering. Photo by Weng-Si Cheang.


Sally May Mills

 “In visiting many of the exhibitions and attending the weekend conference, I felt a deep sense of permission to pursue craft as a worthy vocation.

It acknowledged that while spread across the Indian Ocean rim, we exist in a global community of artists, connected through modern communication and technology, and as such live in a unique age to share our knowledge, and build relationships across countries and craft disciplines.”

Sally May Mills is a ceramicist from Busselton in the South West with a passion for the handmade. In addition to creating her own bespoke pieces, she runs classes and workshops at her privately owned studio. Visit her website to find out more.


Tracie Walsh 

“Attending the conference has inspired me to use traditional crafts and validated its legitimate space in my contemporary arts practice.

Since the conference, I’ve had lots of conversations about keeping traditional skills alive, the importance of sharing cultural stories, and the benefits to our mental health when we come together to make and create.

The Capel Makers’ Trail is mentoring the craft group Sew ‘n’ Tell Boyanup in their plans to share their making heritage with the wider community. I am excited for these conversations to set the tone for the next Capel Makers Trail.”

Tracie Walsh is a practicing artist and the Trail Coordinator of the Capel Makers Trail, a local makers and artisan trail that runs across five towns within the Shire of Capel. Visit the Capel Makers Trail website for more details.

Left photo: Tracie stands next to Niman Aarl, by Darrell Sibosado and Darrell Jade Kyle (both recipients of the IOTA Participation Grants), on exhibition at Fremantle Arts Centre. Right photo: Tracie partakes in celebrations at the IOTA Exhibition Opening at Fremantle Arts Centre. Photos courtesy Tracie Walsh.


Rose Barton 

“Attending the conference in Perth enabled me to reconnect many valuable relationships in the arts world, as well as meet new and inspiring individuals that will assist in my professional development as an arts worker, and creative development as an artist. These connections will enable me to continue to access various mentors, as I practice in the Pilbara and access to professional support is limited.”

Rose Barton is a young emerging artist and arts worker based in Karratha. Most recently, she curated her first show HERENOW21 DISPERSION, which features six regional West Australian artists. Follow Rose’s work on Instagram.

Photo: Rose Barton sits alongside fellow grant recipients Jacky Cheng, Jen Mitchell, Carrie McDowell, Helen Seiver and Tracie Walsh at the Futuring Craft Conference held at Curtin University. Photo courtesy Rose Barton.


The Indian Ocean Craft Triennial Participation Grants were made possible through funding from the Department of Local Government, Sport and Cultural Industries (Culture and the Arts). Find out more about the Indian Ocean Craft Triennial at indianoceancrafttriennial.com

Congratulations to the all the successful grant recipients. 

Garry Sibosado (Kimberley) | $1,000
Darrell Kyle (Kimberley) | $1,000
Darrell Sibosado (Kimberley) | $1,000
Nathan Gardiner (South West) | $500
Amanda Bell (South West) | $500
Cindy Poole (Goldfields-Esperance) | $1,000
Shermy Coleman (Mid West) | $500
Carrie McDowell (Pilbara) | $1,000
Jacky Cheng (Kimberley) | $1,000
Helen Seiver (South West) | $500
Monique Tippett (Peel) | $500
Casey Thornton (Wheatbelt) | $500
Ruth Maddren (Great Southern) | $500
Vivienne Robertson (Great Southern) | $500
Cathy Ward (Kimberley) | $1,000
Cathy Cummins (Kimberley) | $1,000
Mary Ellen Cliff (Great Southern) | $500
Peta Ugle (Peel) | $500
Tanya Lee (Kimberley) | $1,000
Katie Evans (Pilbara) | $1,000
Trish Green (Peel) | $500
Tracey Ceraj (South West) | $500
Jen Mitchell (Great Southern) | $500
Michelle Slarke (Wheatbelt) | $500
Kira Smith (Pilbara) | $1,000
Jan Griffiths (Kimberley) | $1,000
Tracie Walsh (South West) | $500
Rose Barton (Pilbara) | $1,000
Natika Dunn (Pilbara) | $1,000
Sally Mills (South West) | $500
Hendrika Rouw (South West) | $500

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Cultural Tourism Accelerator Grant applications closing soon! Apply for up to $15,000. Closes 23 January 2022.