Art exhibition celebrates women’s soccer in WA

EDUCATOR, mother and artist Naomie Hatherley started photographing local women’s football games in Broome in 2016 when her daughter signed up to play.

“I was seduced by the team spirit and the speed with which my daughter felt part of it,” recalls Hatherley.

This spirit inspired Hatherley to get creative.

“I couldn’t play soccer to save myself, so I play soccer vicariously through art – the only way I know to get in on the action,” she said.

Hatherley paints players from match photographs onto discarded metal scoreboard numbers. The plaques are then arranged according to landmark dates and statistics celebrating Western Australian women’s football history.

Artwork featuring GNWFL players, scoreboard and plaques. Image: Provided

The small pewter score plates once used to mark regional games depict female players as ghosts inside numbers, once lost to footy folklore.

Apart from the numbers, however, their bodies are united in monochromatic color – no longer passive observers, but now active participants to be seen and counted.

Hatherley’s impressive work culminated in her first exhibition Keep score exhibition in July 2021, which featured women from the West Kimberley Football League.

In tribute to women’s football, Keep score celebrates the female form as an active subject of strength, stamina, stamina and physique. A definitive counterpoint to the historically conventional objectified female form as a passive, soft receptacle of desire.

Detail showing oil paint on the surface of old score plates once used to score decades of Geraldton men’s (including now women’s) games in the GNWFL. Image: Provided

Increasing the visibility of female athletes in art has been a key driver in the talented artist’s approach to her work.

Since 2016, and in the shadow of the pandemic, Hatherley has worked hard to further develop her work by completing two residencies at the Fremantle Arts Center (FAC).

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Hatherley used her time at the CAF to research the women’s game in Western Australia by speaking with die-hard fans, players, coaches and other instrumental insiders with the aim of characterizing the unique culture of the women’s game and to gather inspiration for the development of works of art.

“Being able to travel in 2020 was such a privilege. So was being able to talk to and photograph the East Fremantle Sharks who played the early rounds of WAFLW matches in Perth after the lockdown in July,” Hatherley recalled.

Artwork featuring GNWFL players, scoreboard and plaques. Image: Provided

“I was also able to make lots of contacts which I followed up for my second residency in November which was great.”

Keep score should reappear next month with even more of his works. The latest iteration of this captivating exhibition features players from the West Kimberley, Perth and Geraldton regions between 2016 and 2021.

Photographic works that capture the spirit of the Great Northern Women’s Football League (GNWFL) by Barry Mitchell and his Snapaction Sports team as well as AFL Footy Focus photographer Tamati Smith will also be included in the exhibition.

A work inspired by a photograph taken by Tamati Smith. Image: Provided

Keep score will also feature an interactive scoreboard, where visitors can request their own ‘score’ using painted license plates from a Geraldton football club featuring the women of the GNWFL.

It’s a true celebration of women’s football.

“With so much depressing chaos and confusion in the world right now, the magic of women’s football shines like a glimmer of joy,” Hatherley said.

“It’s such a positive story of the power of community and inclusion.”

Noemie Hatherley’s The exhibition is free and will be open to the public at The Moores Building contemporary art gallery in Fremantle from March 5, 2022, from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.

INSTAGRAM: @n0meshath

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