Revel Cooper

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Revel Cooper
Born Revel Ronald Cooper
c. 1934
Katanning, Western Australia
Died 1983 (aged 48–49)
Melbourne, Australia
Nationality Australian
Known for Painting
Movement Carrolup
Patron(s) Florence Rutter

Revel Ronald Cooper (c. 1934 – 1983) was an Indigenous Australian artist.

Early life

Cooper was born in Katanning, Western Australia in the mid-1930s and as a ward of the state was placed at Carrolup Native Settlement.[1][2]

Children of Carrolup

From the 1940s children at the Carrolup school were given specialised art training. Cooper was one of a number of children collectively referred to as the Children of Carrolup. During the late 1940s artwork created by the Carrolup children was exhibited in the Western Australian capital Perth and overseas in India. Through the intervention of English woman Florence Rutter, the paintings were exhibited in New Zealand and in Europe. In 1952 his work appeared in Mary Durack's book Child Artists of the Australian Bush.[3][4][5][6]

Later art

Unlike many of the child artists of Carrolup, Cooper continued painting into adulthood. After leaving school he was briefly engaged as a commercial artist in Perth before moving back to Carrolup to work as a farm worker.[1][7]

In 1952 Cooper was sentenced to four years jail for manslaughter, the first of a string of jail terms.[1]

In the mid 1950s he had a brief stint in Victoria working for Bill Onus' Aboriginal souvenir business and is considered to have influenced the artistic style of Bill's son, Lin Onus.[1]

A black and white scan of the cover of Mary Durack's 1976 children's novel Yagan of the Bibbulmun, with illustrations by Revel Cooper.

During the 1960s with assistance from the Victorian Aborigines Advancement League Cooper was a frequent exhibitor in Victorian galleries. His use of landscapes had by this stage become his signature style.[1]

During a stint in Fremantle Prison in 1976 he was the illustrator of Mary Durack's Yagan of the Bibbulmun, a work of juvenile fiction. While at Fremantle he also contributed a work depicting the Stations of the Cross for a church in Mount Barker. He served as a teacher for a group of artists at Fremantle Prison including Goldie Kelly and Swag Taylor.[8][9]

For a time he also worked as chauffeur to the Director of Aboriginal Welfare in Melbourne.

Death and legacy

He died early 1983 after being attacked with a blunt instrument. His body was discovered in December 1985 and he was buried in January 1987.[1][10]

Works of Cooper are included in a number of collections, including the Holmes à Court Collection, the Fremantle Prison collection and the Berndt Museum of Anthropology collection.[1]


  1. ^ a b c d e f g "Cooper, Revel Ronald (1934? - 1983)". Australian Dictionary of Biography. Australian National University. Retrieved 11 June 2010.
  2. ^ "45. Revel Cooper exercise book (3302A/4)" (PDF). Our Prized Possessions - Rarities Revealed. State Library of Western Australia. Retrieved 14 June 2010.
  3. ^ O'Keefe, Tim (1 August 2005). "Rediscovery of Aboriginal art at Picker spurs opportunities". Colgate University. Retrieved 11 June 2010. [permanent dead link]
  4. ^ "Drawings from Carrolup: Aboriginal Children's Art of the "Stolen Generations"". Picker Art Gallery. Colgate University. 1 August 2005. Archived from the original on 18 July 2011. Retrieved 11 June 2010.
  5. ^ "Carrolup Found". Message Stick. yes. 23 June 2006. ABC TV.
  6. ^ Lee, Felicia R (15 August 2005). "Youthful Art, Aboriginal History". New York Times. Retrieved 11 June 2010.
  7. ^ "Aboriginal artist shows promise". The Age. Google News Archive. 26 June 1958. Retrieved 11 June 2010.
  8. ^ "Graham Taylor (Swag)". Dictionary of Australian Artists Online. Australian Research Council. Retrieved 11 June 2010.
  9. ^ "Goldie Kelly". Dictionary of Australian Artists Online. Australian Research Council. Retrieved 11 June 2010.
  10. ^ "Man killed with jack, court told". The Age. Google News Archive. 14 November 1985. Retrieved 11 June 2010.


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