Acclaimed Margaret River-based photographer and artist Martine Perret’s most important project yet is slated for a prestigious debut at the new WA Museum Boola Bardip this weekend. Since returning from her work covering the West African ebola outbreak for the United Nations in 2014, Perret’s work has increasingly focused on the fragile state of Indigenous languages. She told the Times she was struck years ago by a UNESCO map detailing the decline of native languages worldwide, and when her time as a conflict photographer came to an end, she dedicated herself to the plight of Aboriginal languages in Australia, where the French native has lived for many years with partner and Walkley award-winning photojournalist David Dare Parker. “Everything I have done here is to celebrate these languages,” Perret said. “It’s a really big, important project with a big message to tell. “I’m really grateful to the elders and their families who accepted me into their world.” The exhibition, Belong, offers three new works as well as audio-visual collaborations with Wardandi matriarch elder Vivian Brockman Webb, Perret’s daughter and former Greens candidate Mitchella Hutchens, and granddaughter Mabenan Hutchins, who created a welcome song which plays on entry to the exhibition. Also featured is Mitchee Youp Bullargar (Coming Together), a collection of traditional and ceremonial objects from Ms Brockman Webb’s family collection. Belong also draws on Perret’s previous oral history projects Ngala Wongga and Margillee, for which she spent time in the Goldfields. Perret’s work with choreographer and dancer Dalisa Pigram, artist and elder Edie Ulrich, and music composer and video/sound editor Jonathan Mustard round out the exhibition. The exhibition comes at a critical time, as 2022-32 has been slated as “the decade of Indigenous languages” as declared by the UN. While Perret’s star as an aerial photographer has been on the rise since 2015, her work on Belong switched up a gear just as the COVID-19 pandemic hit. “It made things really complicated,” the photographer said. “But I really enjoyed the process. It really opened my eyes to something, a new world. “It was really rich, culturally, with all of these amazing languages there.” While other experts worked to preserve Indigenous languages, Perret said she hoped her exhibition raised awareness of the potential loss of heritage from the planet. “There is a place for art and photography to tell the story in a different way,” she said. Ms Brockman Webb said she participated with Perret to highlight the importance of Indigenous languages as links to culture and the past. “There is only a small Wardan group living in Wardan country at the moment, and I found it was important to showcase Dordenup Wongi language and existing culture to the broader public,” she said. “It’s very timely for the decade of Indigenous languages to bring awareness to the importance of language and culture.” The free exhibition Belong: Language connecting feeling, culture, country opens on Saturday, December 11 and runs until January 30. The Margaret River Bookshop will host a meet-and-greet with Perret on Thursday, December 16, where the photographer will also launch the book of Belong created for the exhibition.