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“Something deep within my spirit”

Darren Cooper has a studio and an art shop at 17 George Street, Redfern. It’s a space he clearly enjoys. He showed me many artworks there – paintings, painted furniture, a surfboard, t-shirts. Inspiration is derived, he explains, from a sense of pride in his people (the Wiradjuri people of the Bathurst region) and love of country, as well as from the world of commercial art and design (Nicole Colmer, Lyn Onis and Ken Done have served as mentors) reports Andrew Collis in the South Sydney Herald of September 2007.

A builder and banana farmer, Cooper has lived in Bathurst and on the north coast of NSW at Woolgoolga and nearby Yarrawarra Aboriginal Cultural Centre where he was given opportunities to paint and create.

Cooper manages his own art business and sells works from the Cooper’s Koori Creations shop and website ( He is hoping for an invitation to work again in Innsbruck with the design firm Swarovski Crystals. “I spent some time there in 2002,” says Cooper. “I have a work on display beside works by Salvador Dali and Brian Eno!”

Listening to Cooper talk about his life and passion for his art, it is evident that the journey is for him intensely personal. He has chosen art as a way of life: chosen art over football, over farming, over what may have been a more conventional existence. And there is a spiritual dimension, too – a sense in which art has chosen him. “It’s something deep within my spirit,” he says. Te artist is not averse to invoking the divine.

“My work is about God’s mercy,” he says, before recounting a time he was lost, without direction, on the verge of alcoholism. Ten, trying to achieve too many goals – without the sense of commitment to a calling, a purpose in life. Tere was resentment,

too. Someone he hadn’t been able to forgive. “God showed me how that other person was feeling – the heavy burden he was carrying – and how I was making it worse. I try to show that mercy in my paintings.”

Te forms such “mercy” takes include pristine landscapes and social scenes free of the destructive presence of pollution, alcohol and drugs. Tere is a naïve quality to Cooper’s work. Te colours are bright, sunlit; the figures – brolgas, emus, goannas, kangaroos, turtles, and human figures – are graphic, stylized. Certainly accessible, Cooper’s creations inhabit a space between what he calls an “Aboriginal” and “European” worldview. At its best, the work embodies a promise of healthy and harmonious life in community.

Photo: Caity Burridge - Darren Cooper with a large work entitled ‘Sunset Waterfall’ (acrylic on canvas)

Source South Sydney Herald September 2007 -