Katie West is interested in systems of renewal and reciprocity. Combining textiles and social practice, the artist uses plant-knowledge to cultivate connections to place, and to create sites for meditation, reading, listening and conversation. Her process begins with gathering materials on country: leaves, bark, flowers, each fallen to the ground after storms or heavy winds. The hot or cold seasons determine which dying process is used: in cold weather, boiling water is used to transfer dyes; whereas in the hotter months, fabric and dying materials are immersed in water and placed in the sun. The infusion of place into these fabrics forms the central part of West’s installations. They are a reminder of our indivisibility from the landscape, from the microbiomes that we host in our bodies to the natural and built environments in which we live. Emphasising our points of connection, to the land and to each other, Katie creates places to address trans-generational trauma. Permanently installed in the West Space office, the work invites institutional self-reflection and accountability in regards to West Space’s position on stolen land. It is a clear reminder of the duty of care owed to the custodians of the countries in which we live and work.
Katie West belongs to the Yindjibarndi people of the Pilbara tablelands in Western Australia. The process of naturally dyeing fabric underpins her practice – the rhythm of walking, gathering, bundling, boiling up water and infusing materials with plant matter. Katie creates objects, installations and happenings that invite calm, reflection and attention to the ecologies we live within and participate, following the understanding that the health and wellbeing the environment is a reflection of the health and wellbeing of people.
Katie’s first significant commission Decolonist, for Next Wave Festival 2016, explored how meditation is a way to decolonise the self. In 2017 Katie completed a Master of Contemporary Art at the Victorian College of the Arts, University of Melbourne, graduating as the recipient of the Dominik Mersch Gallery Award and the Falls Creek Resort Indigenous Award.
Other selected exhibitions include: Radical Ecologies, PICA, Perth WA; Roll on, Roll on, Phenomena (until you are no more), curated by Eloise Sweetman, Jan van Eyck Academy, The Netherlands; Warna (ground), Caves Gallery, Melbourne VIC; wilayi bangarrii, wanyaarri (go for a walk, listen), Dominik Mersch Gallery, Sydney NSW; Installation Contemporary, Sydney Contemporary 2019, Carriageworks, Sydney NSW; Clearing, TarraWarra Museum of Art, Healesville VIC.