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In the Spotlight: An Interview with Aboriginal Artist Jordana Angus

Connecting with cultural sensitivity and integrity with vulnerable Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children and adults with impaired capacity as they journey is critically important to the Office of the Public Guardian. Beyond the everyday, a way to build on and visually support this connection is through a commissioned Indigenous artwork that reflects people coming together, connecting to country and making their individual journey. Working together with an Indigenous artist we created a suite of creative assets (original and vectorised artwork, digital assets and print collateral) that was respectfully produced.

The Office of the Public Guardian was seeking to connect with cultural sensitivity and integrity with vulnerable Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children and adults with impaired capacity. Working together with the talented Jordana Angus, we created a suite of creative assets that visually described the journey travelled by the Office of the Public Guardian and those that need their help. We chatted to Jordana to find out a bit more about her artworks and processes.

Where is your mob from? Did you grow up there?

I am a Wiradjuri woman and my mob are from Narrandera and Grong Grong in the Riverina region of southern New South Wales. However, my ancestors travelled north to Queensland so I did not grow up there. I was born and raised in Redcliffe in South East Queensland and this is why I have an innate connection to the land and the sea.

How did you get involved with art?

As a child I was always interested in arts and craft and was encouraged by the female members in my family because they were always doing some form of art or craft themselves. Being quite shy/introverted I found creating art to be a great way to express myself.

What are the main influences and inspiration for your work?

My family, particularly my mother and maternal grandmother have inspired me by passing down family stories and traditions and advice on how best to express stories or new techniques in my artwork. Secondly, my Country is the main influence for my work, so many of my pieces are abstract interpretations of our landscape and what it has to offer. I am very passionate about environmental issues as well so I try to create awareness about respect for Country within my work.

Can you tell us a bit about the artwork that you created for the Office of the Public Guardian?

The piece I created for the Office of the Public Guardian is a story about the journey between the Office of the Public Guardian and their clients. It shows that they are there to advocate for those who need it, particularly the Indigenous community as there is a lot of distrust towards Non-Indigenous organisations due to a history mistreatment of Indigenous people. In addition, the aim of this work is to help the Office of the Public Guardian to be more relatable to Indigenous clients.

Besides painting, you make jewellery as well. Is your approach to the two art forms the same or do you follow different processes for each?

The inspiration or stories in my artwork and jewellery have the same approach, however the technical process between the two art forms are quite different because jewellery making is more time consuming, labour intensive and more expensive to create than painting. I really enjoy making jewellery though so I am experimenting with creating wearable artworks that introduce the bright range of contemporary colours that my paintings have become well known for and sought after. Currently I am funding my jewellery making with the sale of both painting and completed jewellery pieces which are also becoming quite popular.

If you got to pick any spot in the world to travel, where would you go?

I would go to New York or Paris as there are some art related places there I would like to visit /experience for myself such as art galleries, museums and artist residencies.

What does a typical day look like for you?

I currently attend university three days a week but a typical day for me at home would be a morning routine of getting my nine-year-old son Taeo ready and off to school, then while he is at school I split my day between university work, housework and either creating work for customers or organising delivery of sold artwork.

What’s the best advice you ever received?

To make what you enjoy and are talented at your career. Then it will never really feel like a job because you enjoy what you do and are good enough at it to be successful.

What has been your proudest career achievement to date?

My proudest career achievement to date would be when I won a drawing competition (by public vote) with Sharpies Australia and New Zealand where my artwork was featured in a cinema advertisement. Part of the prize was being able to invite friends and family to the premiere of the advertisement and it is the last major career achievement I was able to share with my nana before she sadly passed away, so this will always be an important career achievement for me.

What are you currently working on?

As I am in my final semester at university studying a ‘Bachelor of Contemporary Australian Indigenous art, majoring in jewellery and small objects’, I am mostly working on jewellery and sculptural pieces as part of my assessment – but I try to spend some time creating art just for me as well so it doesn’t become tedious or all about work.

Which of your artworks would be your favourite?

To date the artwork I created for the Office of the Public Guardian would be my favourite artwork as I love the message it sends. In addition, I am drawn to the colour scheme of the work as the colours used are what I am most connected to visually in my work.