1st place open category "Songlines", Reconciliation exhibition 2016
Tony Donovan award 1st place "Reconciliation Issues", Reconciliation exhibition 2013
Tony Donovan award 1st place "Lets talk recognition, for everyone", Reconciliation exhibition 2012
Tony Donovan award 1st place "Read the signs", Reconciliation exhibition 2010
NAIDOC 2009 award - Achievement in Art & Culture Central Coast
1st place collaboration "Reconciliation Flowers" with Justin Rossi, Reconciliation exhibition 2009
1st place collaboration Journey of Dreams Aboriginal art group painting, Reconciliation exhibition 2009
1st place open award for "Toast to the Coast", Reconciliation exhibition 2007
1st place Indigenous craftwork collaboration with Lesley Webber, Reconciliation exhibition 2006
1st place Indigenous artwork "Relative Journey", Reconciliation exhibition 2006
2nd place Indigenous artwork collaboration with Lesley Webber, Reconciliation exhibition 2005
I am from the Wiradjuri tribe, we are Murrumbidgee River People and my family
lived at Brungle Mission near the Tumut River, NSW. I sign my paintings Billyara,
this is my totem, an eagle and it stems from my connection with the land.
I started on my cultural journey from a young age and grew up learning about my
Indigenous heritage from family. As a young fulla I was always learning and
exploring my surroundings and have always had a love for art so after finishing
school I signed up to be a part of an Indigenous Skill share course in partnership with
Darkinjung Local Aboriginal Land Council on the Central Coast NSW. That allowed
me to engage and learn more about my culture by going bush with the elders and
learning the processes of selecting wood and making artefacts, painting and
traditional Aboriginal dance. It was then that I showed a natural talent and the elders
embraced my artistic gift. of the main points was bringing back the traditions to the
younger generations. Since then, I have been painting and teaching traditional and
contemporary Aboriginal art for 33 years.
Throughout the years I worked as a manager of the largest Holiday Park on The
Central Coast, tourist resorts, Council and NAISDA engaging with community and
visitors to the Central Coast region. While living on Darkinjung country I restored
sand dunes and establishing native trees, I’ve donated my time for Football clubs as a
coach for under 16’s for 10 years all while painting in my studio after hours and
painting commission pieces, teaching part time and working on building my business.
Through my business Billyara Aboriginal Art I have now been proudly self employed
on a full time basis for the past 6 years. I have worked in partnership with councils,
organisations, UNI’s, TAFE and the Education department to facilitate cultural
workshops for our future generations and I have also designed and supplied awards
for Indigenous pathway programs, organisations, schools and UNI’s. I have won a
number of awards for my artwork through the Gosford Regional Gallery’s
Reconciliation exhibition and competition. The major award is the Tony Donovan
Award which I’ve won a few times. Tony and I learned the arts together and it was an
honour to be a part of the Central Coast's original artist's, setting the way for future
generations. I won the NAIDOC community award in 2009. I was a part of the first
AECG on the Central Coast and have contributed to the Education Departments
commitment in educating all Australian children about our rich Indigenous history.
Another great moment was having my artwork “Descendants” feature in the
Indigenous Law Bulletin along with the first published apology from Kevin Rudd
back in 2008. I was selected to exhibit twice at The Parliament House NSW awards
and have travelled to Singapore while Chair person of an Indigenous art group.
Representing and curating the groups exhibition in the Australian High commission
and teaching Aboriginal art in a local school established for International students
who had relocated to Singapore.
I have been working on many different community art projects over the years and
engaging our youth in our culture, just the way I was taught years ago. I worked in
Cleveland Detention Centre while living in Townsville for 2 years and have also
facilitated a number of Juvenile Justice Programs working with disengaged youth and
young offenders, establishing relationships with Police and community. My passion
for educating people about Indigenous art and culture has lead me to designing for
Modern Teaching Aids after they approached me in 2012 while teaching at an
exclusive gallery in Northbridge. I'm now in my 8th year working with MTA my
range of Modern Teaching Aids Educational resources (Mats, games, puzzles, soft
furnishings & more). Partnering with MTA has allowed me to introduce my
contemporary Aboriginal style art in a fun and engaging way where people can
actually use my products in everyday life.
I live in Gladstone QLD with my beautiful wife and 2 kids. They are proud of their
heritage and love to be learning beside me on my cultural journey as an Artist.
I like to use my surroundings and nature to inspire me with my art ideas and have a
strong connection to the land, animals and the spiritual link with all that the Earth and
elements provide through Aboriginal culture.
My style of art TRADITIONAL, CONTEMPORARY, ABSTRACT, SURREAL,