Cooee Gallery founding director Adrian Newstead has this morning been awarded the Medal of the Order of Australia in the General Division.
The award, to be announced on Australia Day, follows his 35-year commitment to the promotion of Indigenous Australian artists. The citation reads ‘For service to the museum and galleries sector, particularly through the promotion of Indigenous arts’.
An art consultant, gallery owner and exhibition coordinator, his first work with Aboriginal communities was with the Tiwi on Bathurst Island in 1981. Over the past three and a half decades he has enjoyed close relationships with artists from the Kimberley region and Western Torres Strait Islands, senior Warlpiri artists in the Tanami Desert and the Spinifex people of the Great Victoria Desert to name but a few.
Adrian Newstead’s gallery, Coo-ee Art, has organised hundreds of exhibitions of Indigenous Australian art here in Australia and internationally over the last 4 decades. During the 1990s, he initiated the Best in Sydney project and consortium within the Crafts Council of Australia and was a founding member of Austrade’s Visual Arts Export Panel, which set in place support for Australian gallery participation in international art fairs.
He was the prime mover behind the establishment of the powerful Australian Indigenous Art Trade Association [now the Aboriginal Art Association of Australia]. Once appointed as National President, he established the first Aboriginal arts industry code of ethics and business practice.
Newstead served for many years on the board of Aboriginal Tourism Australia and is a trustee and board member of the Aboriginal Benefits Foundation established from proceeds of art sales for the benefit of Indigenous health and education projects in Northern and Central Australia. Among the many causes it supports are Indigenous epilepsy, youth suicide and mental health.
He became the Head of Aboriginal Art for Lawson~Menzies in 2003 and through 2007 – 2008 he was the Managing Director of the Australian-owned art auction house Deutscher Menzies [Menzies Art]. He is the immediate past president of the Art Consulting Association of Australia, having driven its rapid growth nationally between 2011 and 2015.
In February 2014, Adrian Newstead published the critically acclaimed book ‘The Dealer is the Devil: An Insider’s History of the Aboriginal Art Trade’ which was launched by the Hon Marie Bashir and has been described as ‘A masterpiece of arts writing’ in Books + Publishing.
An art consultant, dealer, and art commentator, Newstead continues to support Australian Indigenous artists and their communities from his home and gallery in Bondi Beach.