Sheri, aka bigi nagala, is a proud Bidjara woman and contemporary artist sharing her culture, experiences and hopes for healing our history through her knowledge and artworks. We were thrilled to collaborate with Sheri for our Rain pattern and chatted to her about her inspirations for the artwork as well as what she loves to get up to outdoors.
Hi Sheri, can you please tell us a little about yourself.
“My name is Sheri and I’m 36 years old, married, and have two daughters Heart and Haven with another one on the way. I live on the Sunshine Coast and have been here my entire life apart from a brief 12 month move to a small town in the Northern Territory called Nhulunbuy where so much of my inspiration comes from.”
What does bigi nagala mean?
“I call my artworks bigi nagala, which means 'I am dreaming' in Bidjara. Our land spans across South West Queensland and is home to substantial Indigenous cultural heritage, Indigenous healing places, undisturbed natural bushlands, lagoons, wildlife and ancient waterways.”
What inspires you as an artist?
“I’m inspired by so much. Other artists of all genres, connections made, travels, memories, and of course by the country around me. I’m so blessed to be living on beautiful Gubbi Gubbi country.”
Tell us about your creative process. What’s your favourite medium and how do you use it to create?
“The process changes a lot actually. Sometimes I have a very clear story which makes painting straight onto the canvas very organic and other times I prefer to make a digital design first to get a better idea of scale and colour tones. It really just depends on the individual piece and the client's requests. I really enjoy digital work but painting with acrylics feels so organic and natural to me.”
It’s great to hear that Sheri is inspired from piece to piece, it makes our Rain collaboration feel extra special too.
Tell us about this piece, Rain. What is the story and inspiration behind it?
“This piece was inspired by a memory of my time living in Nhulunbuy. We would often jump in the ute and head out bush to immerse in fresh water holes and spend hours there just sitting in nature. Rain represents the country after heavy rainfall; the way it trickles down the mountains turning the deserts green, filling fresh water holes to their brims. The water covers the landscape feeding the plants, trees, animals and makes the perfect place for breeding cycles. Country is happy to be hydrated again.”
What do you hope to convey through your art?
“Like so many of my brothers and sisters, I grew up not fully understanding my heritage and I used to envy those who were more enriched and emerged in their culture. Consequently, I want to inspire people to learn about our culture and history, and continue to tell those stories to their children and theirs after that.”
How beautiful, these inspirations and hopes really shine through in the final product.
Do you have a favourite outdoor activity?
“My husband and I own and operate a CrossFit gym here in Caloundra which keeps us really busy and active. Consequently, I love exercising with family and friends and spending long hot days at the beach. I've been so spoiled growing up here on the beautiful Sunshine Coast, it's the best place in the world.”
We’re very jealous of the Sunshine Coast’s warm weather while we freeze down here in cold, old Melbourne.
Where do you love to go outdoors?
“We are definitely a beach family. My husband surfs, our girls love the water, and I grew up competing competitively in Surf Life Saving so it's kind of like our second home. We also love taking our dog ‘Ochre’ for walks along the lake and enjoy getting away as often as we can in our 1970’s renovated caravan.”
It sounds like Sheri and her family are living their best outdoor life so we had to ask…
Does the outdoors influence or inspire your creative work?
“Absolutely, I’m always taking notice of nature. How the leaves fall on the ground and the breeze scoops them up and shuffles them a certain way. The tide lines left in the sand as we walk over them. The colours in the sky on sunset always take the breath away. The natural pigments in the earth when the dirt gets scuffed up. Watching ants scurry food scraps back to their nest. Listening to the bird songs. Spotting fish, and if we’re lucky, dolphins gliding through the water. I love nature and being outdoors. If I’m suffering from artist’s block, that's the first place I go to let go and refresh.”
We love hearing that the outdoors is so closely linked to Sheri’s artistic process; Mother Nature is definitely the best remedy and inspiration.
What advice would you give to your younger self?
“I would give myself pretty general advice. Trust the process, the universe has your back. I’d also tell myself to be kinder to myself, to love myself each and every day, and share that with the world.”
What’s something exciting that’s coming up in 2022?
“I've got so many collaborations in the works that are all coming together quite quickly. I’m really looking forward to seeing those come to life and sharing them with everyone. I’m also due to have our third baby in late September which we’re ecstatic about so that will mean I’ll be going a little quieter in the lead up to that… hopefully.”
Where can we follow you and your work?
We've loved working with Sheri and definitely recommend following her work on socials, including a beautiful NAIDOC week colouring download available on her website!