Keeping a Legacy Alive
Through immersing himself in family and culture, Sandon Gibbs-O’Neill of ‘Burruguu Art’ was inspired to un-earth an incredible talent of his, following in his well respected and highly regarded grandfathers’ footsteps.
Creating Aboriginal Art using acrylics on canvas. Sandon incorporates aspects of contemporary and traditional Aboriginal art into his work. You can also find his work painted on didgeridoos, emu eggs and murals across New South Wales, most of which can be found in Orange and Sydney.
“It wasn’t until I visited my Grandfather Tex Skuthorpe in 2014, who was living in Alice Springs, that I first gave it a go. It has only been this year that I have put time into actually learning my Nhunggabarra culture and really started to embrace art,” Sandon explained.
The word ‘Burruguu’ means ‘time of creation’ in Nhunggabarra language.
“It has always been a part of my family and I had seen other family members create pieces of art which I had always been drawn to, though my real passion comes from seeing how devoted my Grandfather was to our culture. Seeing him live each day through these values and teachings is something that inspired me to want to learn more and continue on his legacy. It makes me smile knowing that I can create an artwork that is allowing all people to engage positively with Aboriginal culture, and learn more about our unique culture.”
Sandon’s first exhibition was quite a special one for him, as it was alongside his Grandfather, Tex, back in 2016. Since then, Sandon has designed jerseys for football jerseys and has paintings in a range of places across NSW and Victoria- including the Sydney Children’s Hospitals Network and Mentone Grammar School. “I have been a part of two group exhibitions at the Corner Store Gallery, and I was selected as a finalist for the Gosford Regional Gallery Art Prize. It has been awesome to see my work appreciated along with artists across a range of styles and mediums.”
“It's hard to put my artwork into words as it really is just something that comes to me and is inspired by the landscape around me and my culture. I think art is created because words aren’t able to show what artworks do. But I like to think it shows the uniqueness of Aboriginal culture and it is definitely detailed. It often represents a story or journey, so it isn't only a piece of art but also includes a representation.”
“I hope my work encourages people to gain a sense of admiration for my culture and to realise that it’s not just a pretty painting; it is a very complex and clever teaching and learning tool. I hope that it challenges stereotypes, encourages the younger generation to respect Aboriginal culture and have the belief to put your artwork out there, whether it’s Aboriginal art or another style of art.”
“My greatest achievement so far is having the confidence and taking the chance to do art fulltime and start a little business. It has allowed me to work my own hours, have the time to learn and paint Nhunggabarra culture, and spend time with my young daughter and partner.
“I have been lucky enough to facilitate workshops with a range of audiences including through the University of New South Wales ASPIRE programs which has allowed me to engage with the younger generation on a deeper level. I am also currently running corporate workshops in Sydney which shows how culture and its values can be used to assist businesses.”
“I’m proud of having belief in myself and my art. It was challenging taking those steps towards being a fulltime artist and leaving my previous fulltime job. I hope that I can continue pursuing my dream of being an artist and show my daughter to believe in herself and encourage her to learn Nhunggabarra culture.”
You can find more of Sandon’s amazing art on Facebook at ‘Burruguu Art’, Instagram at ‘@burruguu_art’ or via email at firstname.lastname@example.org
Sandon continued, “It would be great if everyone can follow and share support on these pages as it really does make a lot of difference for a small business.
At the moment three of these paintings are on display in Orange at the Corner Store Gallery alongside 34 other talented creative artists as a part of the Mini Series Art Prize. Make sure you head down and have a look at this exhibition; there are some really awesome pieces!”