In the heart of Bristol, England, a lone Aboriginal flag flutters in the brisk air, symbolizing the opening of Coe Gallery’s latest exhibition, ‘WINTER.’ This unique showcase, curated by Wiradjuri-British artist Jasmine Coe, is a testament to her commitment to creating spaces where Aboriginal voices can be heard, stories shared, and art celebrated. Coe Gallery proudly stands as the only Aboriginal-owned art gallery in the United Kingdom. Coe Gallery’s ‘WINTER’ Exhibition: Celebrating Wiradjuri Art in Bristol.
‘WINTER’ Exhibition: A Celebration of Wiradjuri Art
As the UK enters colder seasons, the ‘WINTER’ exhibition, featuring the works of 17 artists, including three Wiradjuri artists—Hannah Lange, Cara Shields, Jay Bird, and Alex Birdfox—brings warmth and cultural richness to Bristol. The exhibition, curated by Jasmine Coe, serves as a platform to educate and share Aboriginal culture with UK audiences.
Jasmine Coe, born and raised in the UK, emphasizes the importance of celebrating Aboriginal culture worldwide, especially in the UK, where there exists a historical disconnect. “I think people are genuinely moved by the beauty and the resilience and the strength of the culture,” says Coe. The exhibition aims to fill a crucial space for dialogue and understanding about Australia’s history, often overlooked in the UK.
Art, History, and Activism: A Family Legacy
Art, history, and activism are deeply rooted in Jasmine Coe’s family. Her father, the renowned Paul Coe, and uncle Cecil Patten made history in 1976 by planting the Aboriginal flag on Dover Beach, challenging the concept of ‘terra nullius.’ In honor of this historic moment, Coe installed a plaque at Dover Beach earlier this year during a festival celebrating Indigenous cultures globally.
For Jasmine Coe, art is a powerful medium that connects her to culture and serves as a means of expressing her experiences and internal struggles. Her two pieces in the exhibition, both titled ‘Father Moon,’ celebrate the moon’s beauty and signify her relationship with her father, who gave her the middle name ‘Arana,’ meaning ‘moon’ in Wiradjuri.
Bridging Distances Through Art
Despite living far from Wiradjuri Country, Jasmine Coe embarked on a transformative journey in 2016, connecting with her roots, family, and heritage. The memories and experiences from that trip continue to influence her work, allowing her to cherish and incorporate them into her artistic expressions.
Stepping into Coe Gallery in Bristol, surrounded by Indigenous art, books, and native Australian flowers, one can momentarily forget the physical distance. The gallery becomes a bridge between continents, bringing a touch of home to the UK.
Coe Gallery’s Future Aspirations
Jasmine Coe envisions a permanent space for Coe Gallery in the future. Already achieving success, the gallery collaborated with the Australian High Commission, displaying artwork for the first Indigenous Fashion Show at Australia House. Looking ahead, Coe aims to continue collaborating with artists from Australia, sharing their art across the UK and Europe.
“We’re always looking for artists to work with,” says Coe. “It’s always lovely showing new works and introducing new artists to this side of the world.”
As Coe Gallery goes from strength to strength, Jasmine Coe’s commitment to creating spaces for Aboriginal voices remains at the forefront, fostering cultural exchange and appreciation in the UK.
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