In celebration of NAIDOC week, Mr. Smith collaborated with Indigenous Australian Artist Brad Turner to develop a Limited Edition ILF Balancing Pack. We sat down with Brad to ask a few questions about his career, culture, inspiration and how individuals can further support Indigenous Australian artists.
How long have you been painting and what inspired you to start?
Although art has always had a place in my life, I’ve only been doing it professionally since the end of 2019. Initially my daughter was my inspiration for getting started as a contemporary Indigenous Artist. It was my way to connect her with the traditions, culture and beliefs of our people.
What is your creative process?
I like to get out and explore different areas within Bundjalung Nation as inspiration for my work. Feeling that connection with country allows me to be more creative. I will generally start with a clear space and an open mind and will just see where the first lines or dots take me! At the moment I love working from home as it allows me to be completely relaxed and comfortable getting me into the right mindset to come up with new ideas.
How do you tell stories through your art?
I’ve noticed that I’m intrinsically drawn to painting from an aerial perspective and imagine myself hovering over the land (country). I generally use an earthy colour palette and often incorporate songlines, traditional symbols that have cultural significance and of course lots of dots to help tell my stories and bring them to life.
How do you express your culture through art?
I feel truly grateful that I have a platform where I can proudly represent my cultural heritage. I try to showcase my culture by being respectful to both past and present generations. I use my interpretation to name each piece and include a story to help portray the symbols/icons that I’ve used in my work.
Does the piece you created for us to use have a name?
Talngai which means Light From Fire.
What was the inspiration behind this piece?
The inspiration behind Talngai was an artwork called Jalnagay-Ngahriyan (Meaning Firefly). We adapted this artwork specifically for Mr. Smith as it resonated with them. The story behind the original is how the Fireflies would shine bright enough to light up the songlines or dreaming tracks allowing for tribes to come together and connect.
We feel that this is what Mr. Smith is doing with our collaboration- shining a light so people who may not have ever had much to do with our First Nations people can come and connect with our cultures and traditions.
What made you want to collaborate on this project with Mr. Smith which is being used to raise money for the Indigenous Literacy Foundation?
Hearing that the team at Mr. Smith was so passionate about supporting a number of Australian charities including one very close to my heart, the Indigenous Literacy Foundation, I felt that it was a collaboration that I was proud to be a part of and could stand behind and support Mr. Smith wholeheartedly.
How can people support Aboriginal artists?
The theme for 2021 NAIDOC Week is ‘Heal Country’ which calls for stronger measures to recognise, protect and maintain all aspects of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander culture and heritage. It calls for people to stand up and stop the exploitation of our traditions and practices.
By buying from Indigenous owned businesses you are not only supporting the artist but you are keeping story telling alive for future generations. You’re giving a voice to our First Nation’s People and you’re playing an important role moving forward to help heal our country!
How can people ensure they are purchasing authentic Aboriginal Art?
Unfortunately, appropriation has become a common practice so it is extremely important to research thoroughly before you purchase any artwork. When doing your groundwork make sure that you are buying from a reputable source eg. the artist themselves, a gallery or an approved agent, buy ethically and don’t be afraid to ask questions like how they support their artists.
Some other ways to check if the artwork is authentic is if it comes with a Certificate of Authenticity, name & signature of the artist, Language Group or Nation of the artist, title of the work and the date/year it was made.
Style. Substance. Simplicity.