• ARTISTS

          Cooee Art has built long-term relationships with Aboriginal and First Nations artists and their not for profit art centres since 1981.

          Our gallery team travels regularly to remote areas of Australia to meet with artists and develop our exhibition program.

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          Cooee Art Auctions works with artists bi-annually across two separate departments – Indigenous Fine Art and Modern & Contemporary Fine Art.

          Read through the profiles and market analysis for the top 200 Indigenous artists

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          Cooee Art curates ethically sourced art from Australian Indigenous communities that we have formed relationships with for 40 years.

          Our gallery team travels regularly to remote areas of Australia to meet with artists to consign artworks.

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          Cooee Art gallery artworks arrive in our online shop and our gallery spaces weekly.

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        • All Artworks

          Shop online from the full portfolio of available Cooee Art artworks – paintings, sculptures, fine art prints and artisanal objects ranging from $100 – $500k.

        • EXHIBITIONS

          Cooee Art was established in 1981 and is Australia’s oldest exhibiting Indigenous art gallery. 

          The gallery has presented the finest Aboriginal and First Nations art through their exhibition program for over 40 years showing the work of over 150 individual artists.

          The Cooee Art stockroom includes contemporary Aboriginal paintings, rare bark paintings and artefacts, early desert boards and acrylic paintings as well as sculpture and limited edition fine art prints.

        • Current

          Cooee Art presents monthly solo and group exhibitions in the Paddington gallery supported by public programs including artist talks and workshops.

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          Explore forthcoming exhibitions in the Cooee Art galleries and our special event program.

        • AUCTIONS

          Cooee Art Auctions provide an informed and professional approach to buying and selling art in the secondary market. We are a market leader with specialist knowledge and proven results. 

          We offer collectable Australian and International artworks for sale by auction and private treaty. 

          Cooee Art Auctions work with artists, galleries, museums and private collections bi-annually to curate and consign artworks across two separate departments – Indigenous Fine Art and Modern & Contemporary Fine Art.

          Our auctions and previews for potential buyers and collectors are presented in the Cooee Art premium 480sqm hybrid gallery and auction space in Paddington. 

        • Indigenous Fine Art

          Cooee Art Auctions offers bi-annual auctions of significant and highly-collectible Australian Indigenous artworks.

          Our Art Market Analytics provides comprehensive artist profiles and market analytics on Australia’s 200 most important Aboriginal artists.

        • Modern & Contemporary Fine Art

          Introducing Modern and Contemporary Australian and international art.

          We seek to establish new benchmarks for pricing and documentation for artists in the secondary art market

        • Art Market Analytics

          Cooee Art has created a comprehensive art market analytics tool with easy navigation. The information we provide is designed to be an invaluable resource for art consultants, valuers, and industry professionals and to serve the interests of artists, galleries, institutions, art centres, collectors and researchers.

        • Artist Profiles

          Each artist is ranked according to their career, and annual artist ranking index. Detailed profiles, market analysis and performance indicators are provided for a growing list of artists along with the artworks that have achieved their ten highest results at auction.

        • Current Indigenous Art Market

          Provides professional advice on the Indigenous art market in line with other investment categories, thereby serving the interests of artists, galleries and collectors.

        • Consultancy

          The Cooee Art team has been providing expert advice for over 40 years in a Consultancy capacity to offer a breadth of services for the business side of art.

        • Valuations

          Cooee Art Founding Director Adrian Newstead OAM has more than 20 years experience in valuing Aboriginal art and artefacts (pre-contact to Contemporary).

        • EXHIBITION AND EVENT MANAGEMENT

          Cooee Art curates and coordinates exhibitions on behalf of charitable organisations, commercial businesses and galleries in Australia and overseas utilising its extensive contacts with individual artists, artists’ agents, galleries and important private and public collections.

        • ABOUT

          Cooee Art was originally established in 1981 and runs a hybrid art model to represent and support artists in an ethical and sustainable way. We have two galleries, our flagship gallery in the heart of Aboriginal Sydney in Redfern and a boutique showroom gallery in Australia’s iconic Bondi Beach along with a seperate fine art auction wing, Cooee Art Auctions established in 2017. Cooee is now Australia’s oldest exhibiting Indigenous art gallery. Since first working with Australian Aboriginal artists in 1981, we have presented the finest First Nations art through exhibitions and events in Australia, Europe, and the Americas.

  • Contact

Cooee Art foremost acknowledges Australia’s First Nations Peoples, the Gadigal people of the Eora Nation, as the traditional owners and custodians of the unceded land and waters on which we work and reside.

ABORIGINAL FINE ART GALLERY, PURCHASE AUSTRALIAN INDIGENOUS ART, CONTEMPORARY AND ABORIGINAL ART FOR SALE – SYDNEY

Price and availability are subject to change at the gallery’s discretion. While we try to ensure the accuracy of all data across the website, Cooee Art reserves the right to cancel a sale due to price change.

The artist holds the copyright for all images throughout the website and must not be reused or reproduced in any way without explicit permission.

© COOEE ART 1981 – 2021

Gloria Fletcher Thancoupie

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Profile

Gloria Thancoupie and Tiwi potter Eddy Puruntatamerri are widely credited as having been the two founders of Australia’s Indigenous ceramic art movement. During her early years as a  primary school teacher she created her first artworks in ochres on bark. It was not until 1971, when in her mid 30's, that she gathered the courage to move from her home in Weipa (Napranum), Northern Queensland, to the urban environment of East Sydney Technical College (now the National Art School) and began her training under the guidance of famed Australian ceramicist Peter Rushforth, the head of the ceramics department at that time.

She had been drawn to ceramics, as clay was sacred in her heritage, and making art with it was somehow ‘strange but exciting‘ (Isaacs 1982: 35). Initially her work was influenced by Japanese functional ware, and during her training she worked at refining both her iconography and her forms through a series of transformations. In the process she developed a unique style of hand-built large bowls that first gave way to spherical shapes, and later to more organic and minimal forms that were more closely drawn from nature. At this early stage in her development as an artist, the elegant simplicity of her line and brushwork, representing animals and her traditional creation stories, evolved from working with her teacher, the Japanese potter Shiga Shigeo. As her art practice evolved she had opportunities to meet and mix with people in the wider artistic world. These friendships influenced her artistic practice and created opportunities for her to exhibit with the best artists, sculptors and craft-makers as a contemporary artist, rather than an Aboriginal Australian artist. In 1983 she visited Sao Paulo as Australia’s Cultural Commissioner to the 17th Biennale and her works subsequently toured Brazil and Mexico and later were included in the Portsmouth Festival in the UK.

The primary focus throughout Thancoupie’s distinguished career was on the ‘object as art’. Her naturalistic forms, the methods of making them, and the incised decoration that adorns the surface relate these objects directly to traditional ways of story telling. Her forms were created by building with slabs and using the concave surfaces of her own body, her knees and elbows, to push the walls of clay into free-form shapes. Large spheres and ‘eggs’ were created using semi circular moulds as a template, and then building upon the shapes created with small pieces of clay from the inside out as the walls reared up from the mould. Thancoupie’s surface decoration, consisting of grooved out Thainkuith legends and totemic creatures, demonstrated the connection between her work and traditional sand drawing. Her sculptural pieces assert the three dimensional quality common to Australian Aboriginal painting, differing from the European concept of painting as a two dimensional activity. In her work, important Dreaming narratives, for generations held precariously in song and living memory, are encoded alchemically in rock-like permanence from the numinous materials of clay and pigment. By creating this visual language, combining the ceramic shape with the etched surface decoration, Thancoupie produced pots of great beauty and, in the process, became regarded as one of Australia’s great artists. Thancoupie has been shown in numerous solo exhibitions in Australia and overseas. She was represented by her friend Jennifer Isaacs who assisted in staging exhibitions at many of Australia's finest commercial galleries including The Hogarth Galleries in Sydney, Chapman Gallery in Canberra, as well as Gabrielle Pizzi and William Mora Galleries in Melbourne. Other important survey shows have been held at Manly Regional Gallery in Sydney, and Tandanya Aboriginal Cultural Centre in Adelaide. In 2001, eighty works spanning her entire career were presented in a survey exhibition at the Brisbane City Gallery. She is represented in the collections of the National Gallery of Australia as well as State art galleries and museums in Victoria, Queensland, South Australia and Queensland.

Thancoupie’s creative influence can be compared to that of the great Native American Pueblo artist Maria Martinez, in that it has provided the impetus for the development of the Indigenous ceramic art movement in this country. Yet her prime motivation was steadfastly a personal one. Her unique interaction with artists from a range of creative disciplines here in Australia and overseas served only to strengthen her intimate relationship with her own culture. Throughout the last 30 years of her life, Thancoupie mentored aspiring artists from communities in Far North Queensland, Arnhem Land, the desert and the Tiwi Islands. Furthermore she has influenced Indigenous and non-Indigenous students enrolled in art and professional development courses, and others in her extensive travels as an artist of international acclaim. Her commitment to teaching spilled beyond her art through founding the Weipa Festival and running holiday programs to teach bush knowledge and art to younger generations.  Thancoupie’s creative and philosophical motivation carries a universal message best expressed in her own words. ‘You are here in a lifetime to help, to understand… That is intelligence. And only intelligent people have strong friendships. I wish we all have that‘ (Message Stick: 2004).  

MARKET ANALYSIS

Thancoupie was a great ceramic artist and an important cultural ambassador whose pieces should be thought of less as pottery than art, in much the same way as we think of Robert Klippel’s sculpture or Rosalie Gascoine’s wooden constructions.  In her later years, she was no longer able to produce ceramics without assistance and her most successful mature works were produced between 1980 and 2000.

Prior to studying ceramics, Thancoupie produced bark paintings and the only records of any of these having been offered on the secondary market was in the late 1990s when three small barks were auctioned with low estimates ranging from $300 to $1,200. Unfortunately all failed to attract buyers.

Her most successful pieces at auction have been spherical pots with deeply incised figurative animal motifs, designs and symbols. When the first of these appeared on the secondary market in 1997, described as a spherical vase, it also failed to sell despite its low estimate of just $2,000-3,000. However, given her standing as the 'mother of Australian indigenous ceramics', and the wide acclaim for her gallery exhibitions, it was only a matter of time before her works sold successfully at auction. In July 2001 Phillips sold one pot for $9,200, exceeding its high estimate of $6,000 (Lot 177), while another similar piece, listed as the following lot, sold for $14,375. The sale followed a major retrospective exhibition of her work, which was installed in Sydney, Brisbane, and Cairns thereby enhancing her reputation and recognition. This result, which generated a great deal of excitement at the time, was  aided by the extensive description of Thancoupie and her work in the auction catalogue. Little wonder that  the number of Thancoupie items up for auction increased during the following year when, in August, Deutscher~Menzies sold a 37.5 cm high pot, c. 1981, for $28,200, way over its high presale estimate of $12,000, and a stoneware mural, 88 x 111 cm for $21,150 (Lot 160). Later that year, in Shapiro’s December 2002 sale, a pot of similar size, created c. 1989, achieved $29,700, her record price to date (Lot 140).

The demand for Thancoupie works, however, quickly abated after no fewer than nine items were offered for sale with only two selling during 2003. Amongst those that failed to sell were two murals. By the time one of these was put up for sale again in 2005 the secondary market for Thancoupie’s work had collapsed, and even though the estimate was halved, it still failed at auction. This was reinforced when a very nice 39 cm high spherical vessel of stoneware with slip and oxide decoration failed to sell at Deutscher~Menzies in June 2003 with an estimate of $20,000-25,000 (Lot 63) but found a buyer willing to part with $13,200 the following year after the estimate was nearly halved to $12,000-15,000 (Lot 486). The only other exception was a pot offered in Sotheby’s July 2004 sale with significantly lowered estimates, which achieved $25,175 (Lot 146). However during that year only three items sold out of the ten offered with one being a small Knee Pot which sold for just $575 at Stanley & Co. in October.

By 2005 potential vendors had had enough. Only three items were up for auction that year with just one recorded sale, a small Love Magic Egg for $1,920. Since that time, auction houses and vendors have been reticent to offer her works for sale. Only one piece appeared at auction in 2006. A ceramic Totem Pole measuring 95 cm in height, which had failed to sell in 2003. This piece passed in once more in Sotheby’s October 2006 sale even though its estimate had been nearly halved to $15,00-20,000. Offerings during 2007 and 2008 told much the same story. However, in 2009 there was some cause for revision of this somewhat bleak picture, with three pieces sold of six offered, A ceramic Totem Pole commanded a very reasonable $12,000 at Deutscher and Hackett in March (Lot 122) setting her ninth highest auction record. It demonstrated clearly that good work can still expect to sell well, even if Thancoupe’s early success at auction has cooled. Though 2010 saw no works offered at all, 2011 brought three strong sales, two creating new 5th and 6th records, with total sales of $50,793. Between 2012 and 2015, 19 pieces appeared at public auction and 10 have sold. The highest price achieved amongst these $12,000. 2016 started with one work from the Thomas Vroom collection selling for $3,050. Since then, all 8 works offer until the end of 2017 were passed in.

As can be clearly seen, Thancouipe’s auction results have been extremely discouraging since 2003, given her status within Aboriginal art circles. It is now more than 25 years since a book was written about her, and a decade since her touring exhibition. Since that time very little, if any, of her pieces have appeared on the primary market. While her work may not appeal to many fine art collectors, no significant ceramics collection in Australia would be complete without a fine example of Thancoupie's work. Perhaps the medium may be difficult for art collectors with more conventional taste, however, those ceramic pieces made by important Australian artists such as Brett Whitely, Gary Shead and John Olsen, in response to the opportunity afforded by access to a major ceramicist or pottery studio, have always been accepted as a highly collectable part of their oeuvre. How much more important therefore, is the work of a major artist who chose ceramics as a principal medium?

Despite the current downturn in market interest, ceramic pieces by Thancoupie are cherished by those collectors who are fortunate enough to possess them. There is little doubt in my own mind that her finest pieces are due for a major price hike. Once collectors become aware that her finer, large works, are extremely rare, the auction house that devotes a major presentation to her work should receive a very strong response.

MARKET PERFORMANCE

2000 2001 2002 2003 2004 2005 2006 2007 2008 2009 2010 2011 2012 2013 2014 2015 2016 2017 2018 2019 2020 2021
0.0000 0.3009 1.1084 0.2013 0.3418 0.0438 0.0000 0.0000 0.0917 0.2400 0.0000 0.3904 0.1885 0.2991 0.1269 0.1083 0.0552 0.0000 0.0443 0.0687 0.2061 0.0000
0/0 3/3 9/11 2/9 3/10 1/3 0/1 0/0 1/2 3/6 0/0 3/4 2/6 4/6 2/4 2/3 1/3 0/6 1/3 1/2 3/3 0/1
$0 $10,058 $15,167 $10,132 $12,983 $1,920 $0 $0 $8,400 $6,400 $0 $16,931 $8,880 $5,590 $4,026 $2,935 $3,050 $0 $1,964 $4,715 $4,718 $0
Yearly Market Performance Graph from 2000 -

top 10 Historical artwork sales

REDFERN GALLERY

17 Thurlow Street,
Redfern, NSW, 2016

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Cooee Art foremost acknowledges Australia’s First Nations Peoples, the Gadigal people of the Eora Nation, as the traditional owners and custodians of the unceded land and waters on which we work and reside.

ABORIGINAL FINE ART GALLERY, PURCHASE AUSTRALIAN INDIGENOUS ART, CONTEMPORARY AND ABORIGINAL ART FOR SALE – SYDNEY

Price and availability are subject to change at the gallery’s discretion. While we try to ensure the accuracy of all data across the website, Cooee Art reserves the right to cancel a sale due to price change.

The artist holds the copyright for all images throughout the website and must not be reused or reproduced in any way without explicit permission.

© COOEE ART 1981 – 2021

Cooee Art foremost acknowledges Australia’s First Nations Peoples, the Gadigal people of the Eora Nation, as the traditional owners and custodians of the unceded land and waters on which we work and reside.

ABORIGINAL FINE ART GALLERY, PURCHASE AUSTRALIAN INDIGENOUS ART, CONTEMPORARY AND ABORIGINAL ART FOR SALE – SYDNEY

Price and availability are subject to change at the gallery’s discretion. While we try to ensure the accuracy of all data across the website, Cooee Art reserves the right to cancel a sale due to price change.

The artist holds the copyright for all images throughout the website and must not be reused or reproduced in any way without explicit permission.

© COOEE ART 1981 – 2021