DAAFF Yarns with Wilinu artist Ashley Fitzgerald. 

Words by Camilla Wagstaff

For Wilinu artist Ashley Fitzgerald, art has always been there.

“I have been painting since I was young and have done so on and off all my adult life,” says the artist.

As a Wilinu Man, Ashley’s family originally hails from Dongara, a coastal area in the mid-west region of Western Australia. Family, community and connecting to Country are constant sources of inspiration for this artist. 

“When I was young, we enjoyed going out to bush as a whole family and this is what inspired my love of painting the landscapes of my Country.”

A lifelong commitment to his art practice is reflected in Ashley’s highly resolved, distinctly unique landscape paintings reflecting stunning scenes of Western Australian Country.  With an eye for composition, perspective and colour, Ashley’s ethereal landscapes invite us in, evoking a dramatic sense of time and space. Ancient trees rise starkly against a rich red sky at sunset or reach up to velvety blue heavens filled with twinkling stars. Clever use of light and shadow imbue these Arboresque characters with life and spirit, as they converse with their lucious surrounds.  Some of Ashely’s more contemporary-style landscapes are framed by intricate dot work, a smart union of enduring ancient tradition and modern technique. 

Image above: Ashley Fitzgerald. Photo courtesy of Yamaji Art Centre.

Image above: Pink Landscape, Ashley Fitzgerald. Photo courtesy of Yamaji Art Centre.

Banner image: Untitled, Ashley Fitzgerald. Photo courtesy of Yamaji Art Centre.

“All my paintings are memories of places I have been to. The landscapes, the Country captured through all seasons, through my eyes and transformed into art,” says the artist. 

Ashley’s distinct painting practice feels right at home at his Art Centre, Yamaji Art. Based in the port city of Geraldton, about four hours from Perth, this emerging urban-based studio quickly made a name for itself, embracing an extensive range of styles by talented artists across the mid-west region of Western Australia. Yamaji Country covers nearly a fifth of WA, incorporating coastal, regional, and remote areas.

This diversity in Country is reflected in the practices of its artists, which include traditional and contemporary painters, weavers, printmakers, jewellers and sculptors.  Yamaji represents artists from more than five broad Cultural groups from the region: Amangu, Nhanagardi, Naaguja, Badimaya, Wajarri, Wilunyu. It also works with those currently living in the Geraldton region, including Nyoongar, Yinggarda and Ngaanyatjarra artists. 

Image above: Untitled, Ashley Fitzgerald. Photo courtesy of Yamaji Art Centre.

This diversity breeds dynamism, with works frequently showcased in exhibitions nationally and abroad. Yamaji also runs development projects with First Nations practitioners, including those in printmaking, bush baskets and weaving.

In 2017, Ashley was included in the prestigious Revealed exhibition at Fremantle Arts Centre. The annual showcase presents the best new and emerging Aboriginal artists from Western Australia.

As his practice and talent continue to develop, he is certainly one to catch at this year’s DAAF.

Image above: Untitled, Ashley Fitzgerald. Photo courtesy of Yamaji Art Centre.

MORE TO COME

 

Thank you to Ashley Fitzgerald for sharing his story as part of the ‘DAAFF Yarns’ series.  

You can see more of Ashley’s work HERE and learn more about Yamaji Art Centre HERE.

Thanks for reading! Be sure to subscribe as the series continues, and if you haven’t already, catch up on our last posts below.

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