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Workshops at Akay Koo'oila

Inspired by workshops held in the Women’s Space in Aurukun, the women artists created new works that led to an exhibition and a sale to National Gallery of Victoria.


Art workshops at the Akay Koo’oila Women’s Art Centre in Aurukun encouraged women artists from all clan groups to come together in a safe environment and create artwork.

Workshops focused on:

  • canvas painting
  • wood sculpture activities
  • preparing work to exhibition standard.

The artists inspired each other with stories of their childhood and growing up on their homelands. These discussions invigorated their works both on canvas and in wood carving. 

The workshop culminated in an exhibition, Ngan Wanch Aurukunam Aak Puul Nganttam Yumpanan (We are Aurukun women making the stories of our Country) at KickArts Contemporary Arts in Cairns during the Cairns Indigenous Art Fair (CIAF) 2017.  





Image of work


Aurukun and Cairns


Key stats

  • 3 Elders
  • 45 artists
  • 500+ Audience




The project was supported by the Indigenous Regional Arts Development Fund (IRADF), a partnership between Arts Queensland and the Aurukun Shire Council.


  • Ngan Aurukun Wanch Aak Puul Ngantan Yumpenan (We are Aurukun women making the stories of our country) was the first exhibition in many years by the women of the Akay Koo’oila Women’s Art Centre. The exhibition received positive reviews and feedback.
  • The National Gallery of Victoria has acquired the God’s eyes installation, a collaborative work created by 45 artists and based on the cultural traditions of First Nations communities in Mexico.
  • Artists who attended CIAF had the opportunity to network with other artists and engage with visitors who attended their exhibition.
  • Artists learnt new skills or increased existing skills in painting (acrylic on canvas) and wood sculptures to the level of exhibition ready.
  • 100% of the survey respondents rated the activity as ‘good’ and ‘helping to keep culture strong’. Workshops supported good cultural retention outcomes with artists exchanging stories and older artists transferring their knowledge.


Tips for others

The Akay Koo’oila Women’s Art Centre had the following tips: 

Plan well

Coordinate all material prior to the workshops to ensure participants maintain enthusiasm and activity


What next?

Workshops at the Women’s Centre will continue in 2018 to further develop local artists’ skills. There are also plans for another exhibition in 2018.

Image of God's eye installation in National Gallery of Victoria


For more information 

Robin Maxwell, Art Centre Manager

Wik & Kugu Art Centre, Aurukun