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Coo-ee Aboriginal Art Gallery

Nov 12, 2015  ·  2 min read

By Niall Roeder…

The expression “must see” gets thrown around a lot these days. It pops up with everything from a Parramatta Eels game to Hugh Jackman’s solo stage production (do we really need that much Jackman by the way?). Everything is a “must see” event. Well whether you believe the jargon that gets thrown around or not, the following truly is a must see.

The Coo-ee Aboriginal Art Gallery is situated a few streets back from Bondi beach. It’s something that tourists and Aussies alike should make the effort to see, as it holds a large and ever-growing collection of indigenous and historically important bark paintings, artefacts, early desert boards, contemporary paintings, sculptures and limited edition fine art prints.

Adrian Newstead, an Aboriginal art consultant, dealer, and art commentator based in Bondi, started Australia’s oldest continuing Aboriginal art gallery, Coo-ee, in 1981. He’s developed a keen eye over the 30 years he’s worked in the Aboriginal and Australian Contemporary art field. A passionate skill he puts to good use; sourcing the esteemed gallery’s artworks himself, travelling to remote Indigenous communities across this expansive country. Over the years Newstead has travelled all over Oz, to places like the more well known Alice Springs (it was from this region that the Contemporary Indigenous art movement emerged at Papunya in the 1970s), to the more remote Oenpelli (their art being characterised by intricate, crosshatched images and complex iconography) and Yuendumu (their paintings are well known for their bright colours and complex, interwoven patterns).

The gallery offers free tours, allowing guests to explore the gallery’s abundance of stunning works while experiencing commentary from Newstead himself or the equally apt gallery manager Mirri Leven.

The extensive collections of Coo-ee are there for the art collectors, artists, art enthusiasts, as well as the untrained eyes. Art fan or not, wandering through Coo-ee is an Australian history lesson as well as a look into art styles unknown to a lot of us. Check it out and get back to me with whether you think it’s a “must see”… I think you’ll find it is.

Image: Shutterstock


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