Cooee Art, Australia’s indigenous art hub is opening a new chapter

Artist Neil Tomkins Arts Worker Rickie Tjungurrayi and Artist Isaiah Tjungurrayi Lewis

Australia’s oldest Indigenous gallery, Cooee Art, has announced its relaunch as Art Leven, marking a new chapter for the gallery under the leadership of long-term owner and Director Mirri Leven. While maintaining its focus on First Nations art, Art Leven will showcase non-Indigenous alongside First Nations artists through specially curated individual projects. The new vision prioritises transparent dialogue, fostering an environment of openness and direct exchanges between artists, and collaborating with First Nations curators, art centres and represented artists.

Art Leven’s inaugural exhibition, curated by Gadigal artist Kate Constantine, will showcase works from the Northern Territory Warlpiri community of Lajamanu with themes centred around the craft of landscape painting and exploring ways of seeing and translating land and Country. The exhibition will be held at the bespoke gallery space located in Gadial Country, Sydney Redfern, on Thursday, July 27, 2023.

Artists Neil Tomkins and Kitty Napanagka Simon creating in workshop

To facilitate the project, Art Leven recently organized a weeklong painting workshop at Warnayaka Arts in the remote NT town of Lajamanu, featuring Sydney artist Neil Ernest Tomkins and Warlpiri artist Kitty Napanagka Simon. Through this project, Art Leven hopes to bridge the gap and encourage exchange between Indigenous and non-Indigenous artists, promoting an environment of openness, transparency, and communication.

In honouring Cooee Art’s legacy as Australia’s oldest Indigenous gallery, Art Leven aims to broaden the gallery’s program and invite audiences of the wider Australian and Western art world into a more intimate and understanding appreciation of First Nations’ artists, past, and present. By showcasing two non-Gadigal artists for its first show, Art Leven seeks to offer a pathway to new ways of working together and embody the evolution of Cooee.