Bella Kelly exhibition highly commended in national award image

12 May 2017

Vancouver Arts Centre’s Bella Kelly Retrospective was highly commended for the Arts Animates Category of the National Local Government Awards, one of only two WA Local Governments highly commended.

The awards are an annual recognition of Australian local governments, and highlight resourceful and innovative solutions local governments have implemented in their communities.

The Bella Kelly Retrospective, held last year, was a unique cultural project developed by Vancouver Arts Centre to celebrate the art of the late indigenous artist Bella Kelly, a Menang Noongar woman who lived throughout the Great Southern until her death in 1994.

The exhibition featured 51 professionally curated landscaped paintings by Kelly, the first time a female WA indigenous artist had been honoured with a Retrospective, and was presented in three WA venues across seven months.

Vancouver Arts Centre coordinator Amber Perryman said curating the project had led to some amazing discoveries.

"Kelly was a highly influential artist and curating the Retrospective led to ground-breaking research that uncovered 250 of her paintings held in private collections across the country with many kindly loaning their prized possessions to the project.

"Oral histories collected from those who loaned their art provided unique insights into the policies and attitudes impacting Noongar people during Kelly’s time."

Additional outcomes of the project included employment for regional arts professionals, including indigenous consultants, education programs, and the production of a colour catalogue, online resource and eight-minute documentary which can be viewed at