The Art Gallery of Western Australia (AGWA) is getting a facelift. Or, more accurately, a roof-lift.

As part of the state government-funded Elevate redevelopment, AGWA’s rooftop will be transformed over the next six months into a multi-use gallery space and 500-person rooftop venue. Works from the State Art Collection will be installed in an open-air rooftop sculpture park, while a new rooftop gallery also features among the plans. An external lift and sky bridge connecting the rooftop with the Perth Cultural Centre precinct will provide public access after hours.

As well as offering vistas of the surrounding area, the new space will be a canvas for Noongar-Minang artist Christopher Pease. Stretching 34 metres in length and wrapping around the rooftop wall, Pease’s piece will celebrate the ongoing importance of Derbarl Yerrigan – the Noongar name for the Swan River – to Perth’s identity.

“The installation will feature multiple layers that bring into focus ideas concerning art, history and identity,” says Pease. “The work is derived from an historical image of the south-eastern bank, not far from the current site of AGWA, and will present a visual snapshot of the region at the time of first settlement when much of the land remained undisturbed.”

The project’s announcement wasn’t the only piece of good news for Indigenous art. A new ground-floor gallery dedicated to contemporary First Nations works was also announced, as was the imminent appointment of an additional associate curator of Indigenous art to focus specially on Noongar art.

Elevate was jointly designed by Perth-based firm TAG Architects and Sydney-based firm, FJMT. The rooftop makeover is due to be finished in January 2021.