I remember a couple of years back when I was just starting to take more of an interest in the knowledge my Grandfather, Tex Skuthorpe, held and was starting to put paint to canvas. I said I wanted to start an Instagram page and asked what I should call it. He replied without hesitation, 'Burruguu, yep Burruguu, it means time of creation'. I haven't looked back since. Never in my younger years did I expect to become an artist, let alone start a little business, but here we are. I grew up with dreams of a football career and loved everything about sport. After school I worked for a while with TAFE NSW and then decided to start University where I completed a Bachelor of Community and Social Development with University of Western Sydney. Around the same time I visited my Grandfather who was living in Alice Springs, his knowledge and deep respect for everything around him made me want to know more and carry on his knowledge. His influence, in combination with learning more at University inspired me to delve deeper into my culture. In 2018 my partner and I left our jobs to move closer to him and give it our full attention. He passed not long into our time living closer but I will continue to learn from family, his partner and the knowledge he left in his paintings, his book, Treading Lightly, and our memories. There is so much lost but still so much to gain and a legacy I hope to pass onto my young daughter and the future generation. So I share this story because I cannot really explain my connection to art and inspiration without sharing that.
Myself, Pop and my Aunty at my first ever exhibition.
I spent my early years in Goodooga, NSW on Nhunngall country before moving to Orange where I have lived on Wiradjuri land for over 20 years. I currently call a little cabin, surrounded by gumtrees and an abundance of wildlife, home on Darkinjung country near Mangrove Mountain. This is where my Grandfather had some land and where we moved early last year. My artwork is mainly acrylic on canvas and I hope to educate, continue to learn and challenge stereotypes through my work. I am slowly going through the traditional Nhunggabarra stories that we have and paint them. I use this knowledge to create contemporary Aboriginal art which is inspired by the land, our culture, communities and society. I am very thankful to all those that have supported me on my journey as an artist and am so excited for what is to come. I love that art can resonate differently with each individual and that people are realising the importance of the knowledge held by the longest surviving culture on Earth. Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people and communities have so much to offer and I hope that the future holds space for equality, self-determination and a deep respect for each other and the land.
Thanks for the support, Sandon Gibbs-O'Neill
My Pop with his painting about Rheumatic Heart Disease and it's impact on communities.