Stories Along The Edge: The Salonnière

When you explore The South West Edge road trip, you’ll meet all sorts of local characters who will give you a glimpse into their world. Immerse yourself in their stories along the edge.

Vigorous support of the Fremantle arts and music community has given Kidogo Arthouse owner, Joanna Robertson, decades-long purpose. 

 

 

“One of the things I’ve always enjoyed is hosting people,” says Joanna, an Irish-born, East-African raised and Fremantle-enchanted visual artist who has been working in the city’s arts community for more than 20 years. “I love people coming together and I love the nights of music, here.”

Joanna’s “nights of music” are indeed special. Within the walls of a building once used to house dangerous goods for the city in the time of colonisation, this dedicated salonierre creates themed there-course meals served between intimate music sets performed by some of Fremantle’s best musicians and touring international artists.

Joanna Robertson, Kidogo House owner

“I really want Western Australian artists and musicians to sound beautiful,” Joanna is insistent. “I want Kidogo to capture what’s happening in live music. Here, we enable singers and songwriters to sing their own music in a space where the acoustics are beautiful. Everyone here can hear everything. Ninety percent of all musical venues exist because of a bar. But this is a listening space. And that is highly unusual.” - Joanna Robertson, owner of Kidogo Arthouse

Presenting a space where the music is king (the bar is in a separate room so the clatter of glassware doesn’t detract from the concert experience) means the world to Joanna. For her, artistic endeavour is very much at the core of humanity. Art, she believes, is what makes a city interesting. 

“I really want Western Australian artists and musicians to sound beautiful,” Joanna is insistent. “I want Kidogo to capture what’s happening in live music. Here, we enable singers and songwriters to sing their own music in a space where the acoustics are beautiful. Everyone here can hear everything. Ninety percent of all musical venues exist because of a bar. But this is a listening space. And that is highly unusual.”

Prized equally by Joanna is her independence. With no committee, no board, Kidogo is free to host all comers, a point she prizes as an expression of Fremantle’s fearless community spirit.This means music is multi-lingual, unknown musicians get equal showing alongside established names, and the walls showcasing rotating art exhibits are also open to previously un-exhibited artists.

“What’s nice about being an independent artist and having an independent space is that I can enable people to express themselves where they would not be able to in another place,” Joanna says, recounting the exhibit a few years back showcasing the works of a woman who had never painted, drawn to capture her distress at the drowning death of a two-year-old Syrian refugee on Turkish shores.

“It’s about all the voices. All the nationalities.”

It’s also about Fremantle.

Wedged between the beach and the rail tracks carting freight from the city’s historic port, the sounds of the city ebb and flow like musical notes between sets on those nights when the lights are bright and the microphone is live.

“Kidogo is the most Fremantle venue in Perth, Joanna smiles. “To me, this is the heart. Here.”

Joanna Robertson, Kidogo House owner

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