Where do you currently live/work and where is country for you?
I currently live and work in Canterbury along Cooks River. I am a Biripi man and my mob is from the Taree region and surrounding areas. I did not grow up on country I was born in Cabramatta but this does not make me any less authentic as an Aboriginal person.
What are some of the inspirations behind your work?
Social justice for Aboriginal people and questioning colonial narratives of Australia's modern history. I am inspired by educating the general public about the current issues and challenges Aboriginal people face to inspire social. I hold up a mirror to non-Aboriginal people and offer a different perspective to start a conversation.
How do you think your identity shapes your work?
I tend to include 3 different levels for each work I produce i.e Australian, Chinese and Aboriginal perspectives. I create work both from an outsiders and and insiders perspective as I am an Aboriginal person with white skin and I am not being fully accepted in either community. My cultures are part of me so it will always be represented in the work.
Why have your chosen your mediums as a creative tool?
I choose the best medium which best solves the visual and conceptual solution. The concept dictates the medium. I enjoy taking risks and experimenting with new mediums that I am not familiar with to push myself as an artist and keep things interesting.
How do you use contemporary art forms to capture the stories of the oldest surviving culture?
The oldest recorded artwork in the world is an Aboriginal hand print in a cave which was a form of social and historical teachings. I refer to this story telling method and teach people how to create stencil murals on walls as a reflection of contemporary society.
It is a great way to engage the youth and keep a connection to the old ways. I replace caves and ochres with urban walls and spraypaint whilst still using the same tradition stencil technique.
How do you use your art as a vehicle for challenging the conceptions of other people?
My bronze bust of Captain Cook wearing a balaclava challenges the non-aboriginal main stream version of Australia's history. When I was as school I was taught that Captain Cook discovered Australia. Now High schools study this art work which states that "Australia was stolen by armed robbery" which is the actual truth. Non-Aboriginal people have rewritten Australia's history so why cant we ?I also like to educate people of the spectrum of Aboriginality especially Aboriginal people with fair skin.
What do you think your body of work says about you as an artist?
My work is quite diverse in material, themes and ideas. I feel the artworld finds it hard to box my work style and identity. I like trying new things and I am not afraid to tell the truth and take risks with my work and life.
What achievement/exhibition are you the most proud of?
I am proud of my Aboriginal public artworks in the No.1 Bligh street building (Sydney) which comprises of 30 individual integrated wall artworks in diplomats, political ministers and including the prime ministers office. During 2012 I won the Parliament of NSW Indigenous Art Prize. I gave a speech which criticised the politicians and mining companies in the room for their ongoing dispossession and control of Aboriginal people regarding the current Intervention policy. I was proud to be selected for the prestigious ISCP residency in New York last year for 3 months to create a new body of work for the TARNANTHI festival in Adelaide 2015.
What is your next big project?
I am curating an Art Bar at the MCA during October 28 and currently studying my Masters of Fine Arts at the Australia National University researching and producing screen printed political posters inspired by Redback Graphix. I am also making contemporary battle shields for next years National Indigenous Art Triennial at the National Gallery of Australia.
What are you excited about in the Indigenous contemporary art scene?
I am excited that there is a new wave of Aboriginal artists who are focusing on holding the Australian government and ignorant people accountable for the ongoing breaches of human rights and racial discrimination.
This current generation and the next wave of Aboriginal artist are fierce, intelligent, connected to their culture, well researched, sophisticated, experimental, multidisciplinary, unapologetic and critical of the Australian government in visually seductive way.