Coming to Australia as a Migrant in 1980 I found it exciting to learn about the culture of our new home country and it appeared to me that indigenous Art plays an important part in this. Having bought many original Aboriginal paintings over the years and with some artists regularly knocking on my door, I registered Boomerang Art in 1996 as a business.
We visited many Museums and Aboriginal Art exhibitions overseas and in Australia and our goal became clearer over the years. Soon after my retirement in 1998 we established an Artist Studio in Alice Springs in addition to our gallery in Adelaide that opened in 1996.
It was an exciting time. Kathleen Petyarre painted for us in Adelaide, Gloria Petyarre was a regular visitor in my Alice Springs gallery and I travelled almost every month to Utopia to visit Lindsay Bird and many other artists supplying materials and picking up completed paintings some weeks later.
The most pleasant working and business relationship developed with Barbara Weir, a famous Indigenous artist who traveled the world. She painted many paintings for us and with her help we were able to secure a large collection of paintings by Minnie Pwerle (her mother) as well. When Minnie died, Barbara brought her Aunties to my Studio and the three ladies in their eighties and early nineties had a lot of fun painting in my place. One morning in the Alice Springs winter with temperatures of around minus 2 degrees Barbara called when it was still dark and I was sleeping at about 5 a.m. She said “Sorry to wake you up but they said they want to go to the old man”. They meant me. So I put the heater on and the cattle for tea and some 20 minutes later the ladies arrived.
Barbara looked after the commercial site of the arrangements and worked with lots of energy. I believe there is not one Aboriginal family looked after with more love and care than Barbara’s. She always said, I don’t care about you Gallery owners, I look after my family. A point not missed by many Aboriginal Art Dealers who tried to take advantage of in particular elderly artists.
After more than 12 years commuting between Alice Springs, Adelaide and Utopia, running two Aboriginal Art Galleries and one Studio, working 14 or more hours 7 days a week I started to question my retirement plans.
We closed down all and moved to the Gold Coast only to find that with 73 plus one is still too young to sit back. Not only did I miss the relationship with our regular artists and our customers from around the world, we collected lots of paintings over almost 20 years and to continue building this collection involves a lot of excitement and fun. To sum up, we bought a small property in 27 Margaret Street in Southport close to Surfers Paradise, Broadbeach, the Casino and Convention Center and transformed part of it into an Art Gallery of about 480 square meters.
Apart from running an Aboriginal Fine Arts Gallery we will continue to visit Aboriginal artists in remote corners of Australia and organise workshops for selected artists in our new studio. There are many I met when they were still kids. They watched their famous grandmothers paint and some have lots of potential but little opportunities. To provide such opportunities is our goal for the years ahead.