Bundy artist’s busy year about to get busier
TEN years ago, Chern’ee Sutton entered and won her first competition with her contemporary style of Aboriginal art.
It’s been a helter-skelter ride since.
Already this year, Chern’ee has launched her new website, had artwork turned into vinyl wraps for police cars in Woorabinda and been commissioned to do a piece for the Australian Public Service Commission’s Innovate Reconciliation Action Plan.
“It’s been hectic,” she said.
“I’m very lucky I get to do what I love for a living and I get to travel and be my own boss. I started painting at 13 and since I won that first competition 10 years ago it’s just snowballed from there.”
Travelling around the world, Chern’ee takes great pride in being able to share her culture.
“I get to take my art to the world and indigenous culture and history as well,” she said.
“Being able to share stories and art with people who don’t really understand or know about it is really amazing.
“I’m very much a reconciliation artist. I paint a lot about trying to promote that. It is very important to me.”
A single painting can take Chern’ee from two weeks to a month to complete.
“If I’m going at my own pace it can take about two weeks,” she said. “If I’m doing a commissioned piece it can take about a month.
“The organisation gives me a brief and tell me about their values and priorities. From there I plan the painting and make sure everything is represented, so it’s a much longer process.”
As for personal works, Chern’ee is influenced by what is around her.
“Being from Mount Isa I paint things like crocodiles and emus,” she said.
“Being in Bundy is where I get the inspiration for things such as the turtles.”
Now the Bundaberg artist is gearing up for an exhibition of her and her sister’s art in her hometown of Mount Isa.
The exhibition will include some of her biggest pieces, including the artwork used for the 2018 Gold Coast Commonwealth Games mascot, Borobi, and a 9m piece that includes a fingerprint from all competitors and delegates, including Prince Charles, Camilla the Duchess of Cornwall and Prince Edward.
“I’m so excited, it’s going to be her (sister’s) first major exhibition,” Cher’nee said.
“I’ve been painting for it for about a year, so it’s been a while in the making.
“It’s a chance for us to give back to the community as well. We’ll have workshops … there’ll be one with schoolchildren, Young People Ahead, which is like a youth organisation, and I’ll be getting some of the police involved as well to create a positive connection, hopefully with some of the Elders.”
Chern’ee said one of the biggest highlights of her career so far was having her art hanging in Parliament House.
“And 2014 was a big highlight as well,” she said. “I got the NAIDOC Youth of the Year award and Queensland Pride of Australia Young Leader Medal — those are some of the big ones.”