Curated By Dr. Bronwyn Bancroft and Kyra Kum-Sing
Boomalli Aboriginal Artists Co-operative are celebrating our 35th Anniversary exhibition at our Flood Street gallery. The exhibition is comprised of ephemera from our vast archival collection and is a minimal selection from these archives. We will be producing a survey publication of Boomalli’s long history. This is the beginning.
Could you imagine the Australian art scene existing without the following Aboriginal luminaries: Euphemia Bostock, Sheryl Connors-Young, Brenda L. Croft, Destiny Deacon, Tracey Duncan, Fiona Foley, Gary Foley, Jenny Fraser, Blak Douglas, Joe Hurst, Arone Raymond Meeks, Tracey Moffatt, Hetti Perkins, Avril Quaill, r e a, Michael Riley, Elaine Russell, Gordon Syron, Kyra Kum-Sing, Jeffrey Samuels, Gordon Hookey, Fern Martens, James Simon, Brook Andrew, Danny Eastwood, Mervyn Bishop, Dr. Bronwyn Bancroft, and many more.
What do these artists have in common? Boomalli Aboriginal Artists’ Co-operative. The word “Boomalli” means “to strike back” (Kamilaroi), “ to make a mark” (Wiradjuri) and “to light up” (Bundjalung), three Aboriginal languages of New South Wales. It is this fighting spirit that encapsulated the heady, exciting movement of Boomalli’s founding. In 1987, ten members of Sydney’s avant-garde were determined to create and exhibit work on their own terms; to confront the lack of representation of urban Aboriginal art within the wider art scene; and to debunk predominant stereotypes of Aboriginality and aesthetic production. Since its inception, the Co-operative have played a critical role in gaining recognition and respect for the diversity of Aboriginal history, visual culture, and artists – in Sydney and around the world.
Boomalli has been in danger several times over this distinguished 35-year history – we’ve lost members, we’ve lost leases, governments have changed, funding has evaporated – but each time we’ve emerged stronger and ever more determined to provide a space and a voice for New South Wales Aboriginal artists. The camaraderie and leadership of Boomalli must continue to guide artists through the complex landscape of Australian visual arts. There are more stories to tell, more changes to make, more work to be done. The fire in our bellies burns strong.