Birrunga Wiradyuri – Wiradyuri man
Home Country – Bathurst
Personal Lore – Sky Lore
Totem – Sky
Family Lore – Story Telling
Cultural Wiradyuri Central Lore -Yindyamarra; To do slowly; To be gentle; To honour; To be polite; To respect.
Practice – Produces visual Cultural narratives through a Wiradyuri lens + Big Art / Murals
Alumni 2020-2021 Australia Council for the Arts Custodianship Program
Founder/principal artist of Birrunga Gallery & Dining
Founder/principal artist 3year Cultural Creative Development Program Founder/Patron Wayne Weaver Foundation
Represented by Suzanne Goodchild CEO Birrunga Gallery 0406499326
Was there anyone in your life who inspired you to become an artist?
Wayne Weaver and Sam Fullbrook.
Where do you draw inspiration from and what does your creative process look like?
My family Lore is Story Telling. That is part of my Cultural Responsibility. I work guided by my Ancestors, Elders, Language and Country which is all a part of Custodianship. I’m inspired by all of that and by our young people.
My style is don’t do anything twice. I don’t know how to paint and have no real attention span to speak of unless I am intensely engaged and I know I’ll never be better than the work so it’s a pretty good gig. Nobody’s more surprised than me at what I produce.
Do you have a favourite medium to work with?
Not really. I choose the materials that will tell the story / get the job done on each piece.
Are there any mediums that you haven’t explored yet, but would like to?
Silver, spoken word, sculpture, performance, wood, dance and film.
What do you hope people take away from your work?
I’m really not attached in that way.
Can you tell us what you are currently working on?
1 x Archibald entry + we’ve got an illumination project coming up in Bathurst + we’ve been invited to participate in this year’s Brisbane Portrait Prize, and a number of murals coming up + Suzie’s asking for a couple of shows from me before the end of the year + our 3yr Cultural Creative Development Program which is in its 2nd year with Kane Brunjes & Stevie O’Chin + etc.
Do you have any advice for aspiring artists?
Never trust your eyes, they lie.
Never paint for an audience.
Embrace the debilitating self doubt as a key aspect of your practice.
Be ruthlessly aware of the responsibility of the platform and behave accordingly .
Everything you use to produce work is legitimate.
When you produce original work it will be immediately rejected – treat rejection as a good sign.
Balance is everything and it doesn’t happen without deliberate effort.
Keep people around you who will call you out when you start behaving like a wanker.
Never be afraid to paint ugly.
Photorealism is best left to photographers.
Always always always understand that you are never better than the work.
Be honoured and humble.
Accept commissions only ever on your own terms.
Be entirely, relentlessly, genuinely yourself.
Take comfort from knowing that the kind of crazy you are, that would get you locked up if you were in any other game, is celebrated, expected and rewarded as a practicing artist.
If story is absent you are looking at decoration, not art.
Make your own techniques up and keep them safe.
Your last brush stroke needs always to be as good or better than your first.
Work ethic is key.
2021 Archibald Prize entry
Acrylic on Canvas
“Zane Saunders is a very close friend, colleague. An extraordinary artist and exceptional human who I am inspired by.”
Bundang Babirbambarra – Cicada Song on Wahluu (2019)
Oil on canvas
“Number 3 in a series of 6 that captures a once in 110 year ceremony of protection performed by my Elders on our sacred Mountain, Wahluu in 2018. This piece refers to the instant in the ceremony where our Female Ancestors ceased singing. Their song was presented by exceptionally loud cicadas building in volume until a certain point of the ceremony was reached when they all instantly stopped singing.”
Galiyanbal – Becoming (2021)
Acrylic on canvas
“This piece is on my personal Lore as well as our exclusive men’s diamond Lore. It honours an Ancestor, Balgargal, from Peel near Bathurst, whose Lore is that of where the sun first touches Mother Earth in the morning until the last touch in the evening. Balgargal translates as ‘sunlight, the glory where Biyaami lives’.
We approach our Cultural responsibilities from the perspective of practicing custodianship. Rather than having arrived, we honour the non-linear nature of our ‘being’ our Ancestors, our Country, our Community, our Lore, our Ceremony: what was, is now & is yet to come; is us Becoming.”
You can purchase Birrunga’s works through his website or at his gallery:
300 Adelaide Street
Facebook Page: @birrungagd