Boomalli, one of Australia’s longest running Aboriginal artists’ co-operatives, is threatened with closure. Based in Sydney’s inner-city suburb of Leichhardt, Boomalli was set up in 1987 by Aboriginal artists to get their art recognised.

Boomalli means to strike, to make a mark, to fight back, to light up, in the languages of the Kamilaroi, Wiradjuri and Bundjalung peoples of New South Wales.

Lynette Riley, an Aboriginal artist and co-operative member has been campaigning to save the space, spoke to Green Left Weekly’s Rachel Evans about the value of Boomalli.


[When Boomalli was first set up] urban Aboriginal art was not considered art ” only traditional dot paintings coming out of the Northern Territory were considered Aboriginal art.

So Boomalli was and continues to be about supporting NSW Aboriginal artists, their cultural recognition and helping them make a living.

Bronwyn Bancroft, Tracey Moffatt, Fiona Foley, Jenny Fraser, Michael Riley, Jeffery Samuels, Frances Belle Parker are just a few Aboriginal artists who have benefited from Boomalli.

Boomalli is about giving strength to Aboriginal culture. This is very important because the custom before the successful 1967 referendum in the protection era was not to practice culture. There was thinking it was in the best interest of Aboriginal people to be assimilated.