Leo “Leeko” Wright

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A Dunghutti veteran, Leo Wright, or LEEKO as he is known to many, is a self-taught artist. He has done Aboriginal art for many years, starting in his childhood around the Bellbrook and Kempsey areas of the New South Wales Mid-North Coast.

Leeko says:

“My paintings are now in collections in Europe, Asia, Egypt (in the Cairo Museum), North America and even in the Vatican in Rome. The painting for Pope Benedict XVI for his August 2008 Australian Visit was well-accepted. My inspiration for Traditional Aboriginal Art comes from wanting to express how Aboriginal people survived by living with and caring for one another in the communities of the past.”

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Gus Kelly

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Gus Kelly was born in Kempsey, New South Wales in 1949 and belongs to the Dunghutti language group.

Gus has been creating art since 1997 after graduating from art studies at Kempsey TAFE College. Gus has been a finalist in various awards including the Telstra National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Island Art Award and was a finalist in Parliament of New South Wales Indigenous Art Prize.

Gus likes to paint portraits and images of native animals; using charcoal, coloured pencils and acrylic paint.

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Zalie Davison

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“I am a very proud Dunghutti woman. I was born in Kempsey and have lived most of my life in the beautiful Macleay Valley. The beauty of the valley, its mountains, river, streams, creeks, beaches and people inspire me to paint. The valley is a constant in my life and I like to share its beauty with other people.

I have been drawing and painting for nearly my entire life. Both my father and grandfather were artists and also very proud Dunghutti men. I would watch them create their art from when I was very young. I am basically self-taught, apart from absorbing creativeness from my father and grandfather as well as some technical help and lots of support from a very talented and dear friend of mine.

I find painting and drawing very relaxing and I am constantly formulating new paintings and ideas in my head ready to put onto a canvas. I am able to create using a range of media including pencil, charcoal, watercolour, ink, acrylic and various forms of collage.

My subjects are many, wide and varied. I tend to do my Aboriginal paintings from a higher perspective looking down upon the land. I see the land and flora in a pixelated format and reflect that in the images on my canvases.

I have spent time in the Northern Territory, South Australia and The Central Desert region. During my time there I was lucky enough to be taught some painting techniques by some of the awesome artists in those areas. Qualities from some of these artists and their techniques are evident in my paintings.

My paintings grace homes and offices in Australia, Switzerland and Germany. Some of my paintings have been purchased by a gallery curator as an investment for one her clients.”

Tanya Taylor

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Tanya was born in October 1964 and  is  a descendant of the Kattang (Barrington Tops NSW – Father) and Worimi (Forster – Mother) tribes.

Tanya studied at Hamilton College of TAFE Newcastle (1986-1990), majoring in sculpture.

Tanya’s qualifications include: Diploma, Advanced Diploma and Advanced Associate Diploma.

“My work includes a range of Aboriginal contemporary and traditional styles. I particularly enjoy hand whittling wooden Rainbow Serpents with Aboriginal designs”.

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Maree Bisby

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“Expression comes through connection with spirit, embracing creativity to produce artwork which is unique and individual…”

Beverley Hoskins – Dudjira Barunbatai

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Beverley was given her artist name “Dudjira Barunbatai” which means “Teacher of the Dreamtime”.

The name “Dutjira” was given to her by her Uncle Leeton Smith who was an initiated man.

The second half of her name was given to her by her Great-Grand Aunty Rita Scott. Beverley always signs her artworks “Dudjira Barumbatai”, with “B. L. Hoskins” underneath.

Beverley was born in Kempsey in 1947, and is a descendant and now Elder of the Dunghutti tribe. Beverley was educated in Sydney where she trained as an Aboriginal Education Assistant and as an Aboriginal Resource researcher. She spent many years raising her own children and a further 16 teaching in local schools.

Jaluka Rosalee Quinlin

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Jaluka Rosalee Quinlin is an artist, singer and songwriter of Djaingatti, Cadigal and Darug heritage. She learnt songs from the Torres Strait Islands, Yirrkala area.

She is passionate about her Aboriginal Culture and expressing it through her art.

Jaluka Rosalee’s artwork “Pee Dee Days 1965” is in the gallery’s permanent collection.

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Mabel Ritchie

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Mabel Ritchie is a Dunghutti woman who was born in Newcastle.

Mabel’s family moved back to her father’s home land at Burnt Bridge when she was very young and she grew up there with her brothers and sisters.

As a young girl, Mabel loved to watch her aunties and uncles paint beautiful pictures.  Mabel enjoyed painting stories throughout her school years.

Since 2009 Mabel has been painting her own pictures, telling her stories about her life and her culture.

Mabel has exhibited widely and her works are held in private collections both in Australia and overseas. Her most recent solo exhibition – “dhipalyan” was held at DNAAG in November 2019.

Mabel’s painting “Gravelly Dog II” is in the gallery’s permanent collection.

Rex Winston-Walford

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Rex was born in Sydney 1968 and belongs to the Gamilaraay language group.

Rex was adopted by a white family at three months of age and grew up at Nyngan, a farming community in Central West New south Wales.  His interest in his birth mother and Aboriginal heritage was sparked when he first began painting.  With the support of his adoptive parents and a government agency, he was able to locate and meet his birth mother.

Rex is a self-taught artist.  He is an established commercial contemporary artist who has undertaken numerous commissions.  Works are held in numerous private collections, including the Kerry Stokes collection.

Rex’s contemporary paintings are a unique response to his environment and landscape, expressed through an innate skill for precise dot markings.

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Danielle Burford

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“Everything I see around me gets painted on my minds canvas.

As a child I spent a lot of time in the bush, on the banks of the Darling River, fishing and catching frogs with my brother. We sat under a large tree whilst Elders told stories of the Dream Time.

Although I am a visual artist, my one true love is contemporary Indigenous art. It takes me back to my roots, my Grandfather and ancestors before him, and my home land of the Central and North Western area of NSW.

My art reflects on everything Australian, from animals and trees to the red dirt and sky, using traditional colours and involving a range of tones to create depth. I hope collectors and art lovers alike find their own meaning in my works, and appreciate the connection I feel through my painting, to a time long past but still strong within myself.” 

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Elwyn Toby

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Elwyn was born in 1974 and lives in Bellbrook – 52 kms west of Kempsey in the Macleay Valley.

“My tribe is Thungutti and I have lived in Bellbrook all my life.

I like Aboriginal artworks because of the stories behind them.  My uncle use to help me paint when I was a boy.  I love going spearing and looking for dhubal (witchetty grubs), turtles and on bush walks with my uncle.”

Elwyn’s painting “Barralbarayi” is in the gallery’s permanent collection.

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Alison Williams

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Alison is a proud Gumbaynggirr woman born in Sydney in 1968.

Alison is a spokesperson for cultural heritage of Australian indigenous persons and has been involved in education and communication of culture from dance, sculpture and painting as well as community leadership involvement.

“I love art of all forms and mediums and I love how effectively it communicates.  I am inspired by my identity, heritage and people.  I tell my story and the story of my dreaming as taught to me by my Elders.  I am also inspired by various states of ignorance: whether its in politics, environmental or social issues.  I love how art can slap you in the face or evoke strong emotional responses.

Alison’s painting “Biiway” is in the gallery’s permanent collection.

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Issacc Campbell-Cook

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“I was named after my two grandfathers, on my mother’s side, Robert Campbell JR, a NGAKU man and on my father’s side, Robert John Dunn Naylor, a BanBai man, also Uncle Paul Silva.

The Silva’s are also our mob.

I’m Dunghutti on my mother’s side. I’m South Coast on my father’s side.

NGAKU, DUNGHUTTI, and WOIRIMI, I am very proud of where I have descended from and who I am named after.

OK, well now you know a bit about me let’s get to the story.

I am very thankful for living in NGAKU country. I became fascinated in my grandfather’s paintings, watching him sitting under the trees in the shade in the backyard.

‘Big Bob’, ‘Uncle Bob’, but to the mob and me we know him as grandfather who walked in the footsteps of a dream, it was ‘The Dreamtime’.

He rises with our mother, then he sets off like ‘The Rainbow Serpent’, painting his way all over our land, from the mountains to the waterholes and gullies. Floating down river and streams, overlooking the land, getting in touch with Spirituality.

Now paddling past our floodplains on his way to the sea, but first he observes the wetlands like a bird, perched in a tree, then flocking to our estuary’s that flow to our sea, flying like a Sea Osprey, overlooking and observing as far as he could see.

That’s how it came to be for me, when I first pulled up a paint brush with my grandfather, under the shady trees with his spirituality, because he embedded it into me.

I am thankful for those days with him. I learnt lots from my pop. He is my teacher. I learnt from him, and also Great Uncle Colin Cody Campbell and Great Uncle Cid Button.

This is why I have respect, passion and love for art, the Story telling of the ‘Dreamtime’, our culture and heritage and our way of life.

We never forget who we are; we bring awareness of the past into the present and future.”

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Larry Morris

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Larry likes to paint animals from the local area on canvas, board, didgeridoos and on boomerangs.

Larry thinks about the boys being sent away and wonders if they would ever fully reconnect with their families. A meeting place referred to as the ‘Big E’ – a watering hole in Redfern – would often be a place for re-connection.

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Clem Ritchie

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“I’m from the Dunghutti tribe and I’ve lived in Kempsey all of my life, growing up at Burnt Bridge with my Nan and Aunty. My father was the famous boxer known as Ritchie Sands whose real name was Percy Ritchie.”

“I have been working with Macleay Options for thirty years, mowing with Momacs and wood work in Woodies. I started painting in 2010 at Living Skills with Macleay Options as I always wanted to have a go at painting. I really enjoyed myself and painting has brought back many memories of my childhood growing up with uncles, aunties, cousins on Burnt Bridge Mission.”

Clem’s painting “Emu Tracks and Eggs” is in the gallery’s permanent collection.

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Jason Ridgeway

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“I am a proud Dunghutti man. I was born and raised in Kempsey.

I started painting about 8 years ago. I was inspired by my surroundings and by the stories I was told by my elders and by my family.

I am a contemporary artist and I like to paint my experiences through life, what it has taught me and also about both traditional and present times. I cherish my culture. Every chance I get I like to get out and learn about the land and pick up on my culture and family history so that one day I will be able to pass it on to my children.

I love painting –  it eases my mind when I think too much about life and what’s going on around me. It is soothing and a way to escape reality for hours at a time: it’s great to set the mind free and start feeling good about yourself again.

I take great pride in my work and in being an Aboriginal man. I love what I can create and being able to tell stories through my art is an awesome feeling.”

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Lewis John Knox

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“I was born in Kempsey Hospital to Lewis and Joyce Knox from North St, Kempsey. I was the eldest of five children and my family lived in Sydney and Walcha before coming back to Kempsey.

We lived at Burnt Bridge Mission for 10 years and I went to school at Burnt Bridge School. I loved to go fishing, swimming and to the picture shows with my brothers and sister. I started painting while attending KOGS in Kempsey and really enjoyed doing it.

Now I would like to paint some pictures of my memories with my family.”

Johnny’s artwork “Children at Church” is in the gallery’s permanent collection.

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Richard Campbell

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Richard was born in Bowraville. His mother was Gumbaynggirr and his father was a member of the Dunghutti tribe.

From an early age Richard would sketch.  His father would then burn the images onto boomerangs, shields and spears which they would sell for food.

He was taken away from his family and placed in Kinchela Boys Home where he would sketch to pass the time away and to ease the pain of being removed from his family.

In 2008 Richard’s work was selected to be represented at Pope Benedict XVI’s visit to coincide with World Youth Day.  During this time he was an artist in residence at The Australian Museum.

In 2010, the Mary Mackillop Institute requested the use of two of his works to be used in the Canonisation Ceremony.  Richard was fortunate enough to travel to Rome to witness the event.

The Exhibition on show at the Gallery ‘Creation’ relates to Richard’s Aboriginal spirituality and the parallels with the Catholic faith.

Richard has a range of greeting cards featuring his artworks available for sale through the gallery.

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Christine Jarrett

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“I am a descendant of the Gumbaynggirr Tribe (Nambucca Heads)

I began painting some 15 years or more ago when I was attending the Muurrbay Language Centre.

I work with very fine lines – I had to walk all over Sydney looking for the right brush.

I am a perfectionist and if I make a mistake or am not happy with the lines, I wipe them off and start again. I find painting very relaxing.

My stories are about my life and living near the water.  I use to go fishing in both saltwater and freshwater with my sister who has since passed away.  We used to fish with ‘Santa Clause beetles’ or cicada’s and catch mullet, blackfish, bream, whiting and eels.”

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Andrew Stewart

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“My name is Andrew Stewart. I’m from the Dunghutti Nation which is Kempsey and surrounding areas.  I started painting to gain knowledge of my culture, as I didn’t know that much about my culture as I was growing up, only a few stories that my Elders passed down to me.  Now I will be able to pass this knowledge to my children with the stories, my appreciation will be told through my painting.”

Andrew’s painting “Dunghutti Totem” is in the gallery’s permanent collection.