Black Art White Walls – the Adrian and Anne Newstead Indigenous Art Collection, opened at the Sunshine Coast Regional Gallery in January 2016, just 6 days before the Australia Day announcement that Adrian had been awarded the Order of Australia Medal for his contribution to the promotion of Aboriginal art in Australia and overseas. A month later the exhibition made a speedy return to Sydney having completed its 8 venue tour of NSW, Victoria and Queensland, and was repackaged, crated and freighted to São Paulo, Brazil, in time to be the feature visual art component of the Australia Now Festival organised by the Department of Foreign Affairs in the lead up to the Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro.
As Brazilian audiences flocked to see this exhibition, which had been re-curated by Adrian and Djon Mundine OAM to draw parallels between the colonial experience of both countries and its impact on their indigenous people, Coo-ee Art staged the first solo exhibition for Warlpiri artist Kitty Napanangka Simon to such success that dealers here and overseas contacted the gallery requesting exhibitions of Kitty’s work. And then, in April, Cooee collaborated with Australia’s premier contemporary art gallery, Stuart Purves’ Australian Galleries to present Masterworks of Aboriginal art.
Soon after, our energetic and incomparable gallery manager Mirri Leven officially became a partner in the business and immediately embarked upon an ambitious exhibition and promotional program. The company held its long awaited web site relaunch, and completed the first stage development of the Aboriginal Art Marketplace (which will become an on-line platform for listing quality secondary market works by Australia’s most important 200 Aboriginal artists with an on-line auction facility.
While O Tempo Dos Sonhos (The Time of Dreaming) opened in Brazil’s Northern capital Fortaleza, Adrian and Mirri were in Darwin to witness Harold Thomas receiving Aboriginal art’s highest accolade, the Telstra National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Art Award. Adrian, a long time supporter and admirer of Harold’s work, had tipped the winner for more than a month before the announcement, and been singing the praises of his powerful work.
On 1st of November Cooee Aboriginal Art was exactly 35 years old. (Established in 1981). To celebrate this milestone, and the fact that Cooee is now Australia’s oldest continuously operating Indigenous exhibiting gallery, Mirri decided to rent a pop-up gallery on Oxford Street Paddington for the month leading up to Christmas. The venue has been so successful that we have extended our stay until the end of January.
2016 has been a most rewarding and exciting year during which we have had the privilege to work with wonderful artists, fellow dealers and the wider arts community to present Aboriginal art to national and international audiences.
Thank you to everyone who has been so very kind to us during this adventure. We are extremely excited about our program for 2017 which will include solo exhibitions for urban artists Helen Tiernan, Adam Hill (AKA Blak Douglas), and Jacob Stengle.
Adrian and Anne Newstead, Mirri Leven and all of the staff at Cooee Art (Tess, Emma, Dan, Phil and Cassie) wish you, your family and friends a most joyous festive season and a wonderful new year.