Did you know that Coober Pedy has one of the largest opal deposits in the world? Opals are multi-coloured gems that consist of spheres of silica arranged in patterns. As an opal prospector, artist George Cooley has experienced the Coober Pedy landscape from above and deep below, with the layers of earth beneath the surface revealing iridescent flashes of colours held within the precious gem.  

Think of the vivid colours that remind you of a place. Is it your garden after the rain or sun setting over the sea or sun rising over the hills? From sunrise to sunset, George captures the transformation of colour of the unique landscape of Coober Pedy. The name Coober Pedy comes from the Parnkalla and Kokatha words kupa (ghost) and piti (quarry). George’s community is called Umoona, which translates as ‘long life’ and is also the name for the mulga tree.

Select three colours associated with a memorable place. Colour your surface with oil pastels. Cover your colours with a layer of black paint. Once dry, scratch the surface by drawing your memory of this place to reveal the spectrum of colours that lie beneath. 

‘What I love about the country is its freedom and the peace that the environment provides. It is a harsh and hard environment, but it's also a really good environment, I love the chasing and just looking for opals’
George Cooley

For Schools

The Studio is open weekdays during school term for a free facilitated session, all materials provided.

  • James and Diana Ramsay Foundation