2015 Teddy Byrne, Sonya Edney and Natasha Nelson

Spinifex Hill Studios, South Headland


Teddy Byrne photoTeddy Byrne

Well I was born in Bruce Rock – it’s a little town in Merridan. It’s in the wheat country – it’s flat, flat! There were prickles everywhere, millions. You couldn’t wear thongs, you’d end up with high heels! There were Aboriginal people there in Bruce Rock. We were in a little fibro house and I could look out my window and see Aboriginal people living in desperate poverty. We were poor, but that was nothing. When I was four years old I shifted to Perth, to Morley. It was the most amazing magical wonderland – I just couldn’t believe any place could be so pretty. There were teals, mountain ducks, frogs, porcupines, turtles, dugites, tiger snakes, and bobtail goannas. We used to make little canoes out of corrugated iron and we could paddle for half the day and still be nowhere near the end of the swamp. By the time I was twelve years old, it was all gone – the whole lot. They drained it.

Mum and dad were teachers, and so we shifted to Collie. In Morley and Embleton there weren’t a lot of Aboriginal children there, but they were there, and I had contact with a few of the different families there. When we went to Collie I was surprised that I was the only Aboriginal kid at the school. Where were all the Aboriginal people? I couldn’t find them- I looked everywhere. One day I found them in this camp. There were a couple of hundred people at least, and they were all living in old cars. Then we came up here to Port Hedland.

Mum was a painter – she wanted to paint, she had the desire, and she started on watercolours. One day she just hit on a style. She said ‘Alright, I’ve done enough trees, I’m going to be an abstract painter’, and she started producing these amazing works- she was artist in residence at Curtin a couple of years ago. For me- I loved painting, I love the expression of it – expressing things I can see in my mind. I paint my dreams- that’s what I try and paint, the things that I dream. I’m pretty influenced by the naïve style, and the surreal style. Art’s a funny thing – if you like it it’s great, and if you don’t like it it’s a pile of crap!

Ever since I was a little kid I wanted to perform- the first song I wrote was ‘I love my mum’. I love synthesizers and when I play my music to people I use the sounds to make a picture. Experts in the field call it Bauhaus – the style of music that I like, because of its architectural concepts. Working as a professional artist over the years I’ve learned to appreciate all art and value the freedom of expression we have in Australia.

???????????????????????????????Sonya Edney

“I’m a Yingkarda Wajarri artist. My Country is Carnarvon. When I was a teenager I moved to Burringurrah Aboriginal Community. I started painting at school and took it from there, painting on anything.
After that I did a Visual Arts course at TAFE, and started travelling around to do murals, mosaics, screen printing, illustrating, community events and teaching. I paint with Yamaji Arts in Geraldton and with the Spinifex Hill Artists in Port Hedland. I’ve won art prizes and sold a lot of my artwork around Australia and around the world.
What inspires me most is when I paint. It takes me back home to where all my inspiration first started out in the bush with my family. Living out in the bush was all about learning where you come from and the stories you were told.”


Natasha Nelson photoNatasha Nelson

I am a Noongar Yorga (woman) from Perth.  I grew up in Balga (Black Boy), a Northern suburb of Perth where I spent most of my childhood and adult life.  I have been painting and a part of the Spinifex Hill Artists for seven months.  When I first joined the Spinifex Hill Artists I had no previous painting or art experience and I gradually learnt which I enjoy.  Painting to me is stress relief, a calm and soothing environment.  I have met a lot of new friends from the Pilbara area, and I have great respect and appreciation for their art as well as their friendship.  In my art work, I reflect on and connect my painting to my Aboriginal culture, heritage and beliefs on our relationship with the land, places, animals and people.

In the 1990s, growing in Perth as a teenager, I have fond memories of hanging out with my friends at Mirrabooka Shopping Complex- which we called ‘Late Night’.  Late Night was the social entertainment where all the Aboriginal Teenagers met up.  The Shopping centre, Blue Light Disco (once every month), The Pond and the Bowling Alley was the main attraction for us blackfellas.  Back in them days there were over 50 Aboriginal kids hanging out.  That was the day’s back then.

Today I reside in South Hedland and have been living here for nine months – a single mother raising three gorgeous daughters.  I moved to South Headland with my children for a sea change in life and to improve me and my family life style and job opportunity.