Freo’s Active Citizen of the Year

On Australia Day just gone, Artist and Director of Kidogo Arthouse, Joanna Robertson, was awarded the City of Fremantle’s Active Citizen of the Year (Event) for the Hand in Hand – Kidogo Irish Aboriginal Festival.

For Freo folk and those beyond Freo who know Joanna and love Kidogo and Kidogo music events, none of this will come as a surprise!

As an Irish woman working closely with Aboriginal artists in Fremantle for over 15 years, Joanna was inspired to create this particular festival by their many stories of the history, familial connections and friendships between the Aboriginal and Irish people in Western Australia.

This unique and relatively unknown connection is embraced in the boutique, grassroots festival in a program of live music connecting Irish and Western Australian performers, singalongs and jam sessions, exhibitions and traditional dancing, run by Joanna a Fine Art graduate of the National College of Art in Dublin who established Kidogo Arthouse as an independent art centre 22 years ago.

“The festival is a celebration of two cultures that has never been done before. There are long familial and friendship connections between the local aboriginal community and the Irish people that arrived in Australia. This festival is an opportunity to recognise them and create new and exciting creative collaborations between Ireland and Australia,” Joanna said.

The inaugural festival in March 2021 included live music, poetry, book launches and readings, exhibitions, dance, friendly AFL and GAA football, an Irish soda-bread versus damper cook-off. As well as A 10 metre-high mega projection wall that featured virtual performances by internationally renowned Irish musicians: Luka Bloom, folk artist Daoiri Farrell, SON (Susan O’Neill), Steve Cooney and Irish poet Tony Curtis. Aboriginal performers included Olive Knight Kankawa Nagarra, the world-travelled, legendary Blues singer from the Kimberley, The Yabu Band and Dave Milroy & The Wilarra Band, joined by local legends such as double Grammy Award winner Lucky Oceans.

In 2022 as Perth hunkered down for the peak of its pandemic experience, Joanna was determined to follow through with her mission to create a safe music festival experience for all and give musicians a much needed platform where they could perform again. The intimate two-day gathering, held by the ocean on Kidogo’s beautiful deck included performances by David Milroy, Lucky Oceans, Danilo da Paz, Wayne Freer, Maitland Schnaars, Kenneth Dawson, Bryan Rice Dalton, Kavisha Mazzella, John Reed, Brian Finnemore, Fiona Rea, John Clare, Donough O’Donovan & Poetry by Máirtín Ó Dubhlaigh. It also featured the very special “Hand in Hand” Art Exhibition by two very important West Australian Artists, Kenneth Dawson (Gooniyandi) and Ilona McGuire (Whadjuk Nyoongar) and the projection wall featuring virtual performances musician Luka Bloom & Poet Tony Curtis.

The 2023 festival is now on sale and for the first time features Irish performers flown in to perform live along with storytelling, poetry, music, art and more at the beautiful Kidogo Arthouse, a bustling independent art centre located at the water’s edge at Bathers Beach in Fremantle, Western Australia.

Performers include: The Rattling Kind – Eddie Sherlock (IRE) • David Milroy • Boox Kid • The Healys • Kobi Morrison • Fiona Rea • Tony Curtis (IRE) • Kankawa Nagarra – Olive Knight • Kenneth Dawson • John Barrett • The Struggling Kings • Lucky Oceans • Meg McGuire • Manchán Magan (IRE) • McGuire Family Band • Djoogan Keeninyirra • STANO (IRE) • Lois Olney • Brian Finn • Rob Zielinski • Manuela Centanni • Nigel Healy • Cormac Healy • Kavisha Mazzella • Lucy McGuire • Ceili • Flash Mob & more to be announced!

Event Details
Dates: Friday 17 March (St Patrick’s Day) 2pm-11pm, Saturday 18 March 3pm -11pm, Sunday 19 March 10.30 am to 11pm
Tickets:Book here – Earlybird Prices: Weekend pass $178, day pass $48/$68 and professional musician $20
Address: Rear 47 Mews Road, Bathers Beach, Fremantle, Western Australia
More information:
Look here!

Podcast with Joanna
Our editor Michael Barker was lucky enough to catch up with Joanna between commitments to record this podcast below about her Award and the 2023 Festival.

In case you missed our in-depth podcast with Joanna about her career to date, here it is again!


** Don’t forget to SUBSCRIBE to receive your free copy of The Weekly Edition of the Shipping News each Friday!

Here’s the podcast. Enjoy!