Designer of Campfire & Reconciliation - Working with Recycled Mats since 2015
Angela is a Birrbay, Dhanggatti and Warrimay woman from the mid-north coast of New South Wales, Australia. She has been painting for many years for cultural and spiritual reasons, and is now a professional artist and designer, creating bold, striking and meaningful works of contemporary Aboriginal artwork.
Angela to establish Marrang Art, a proudly culturally driven and culturally responsible business meaning “Beautiful Art” in Gathang language.
Angela’s contemporary pieces are stunningly intricate and detailed with some traditional elements. She specialises in custom commissioned Indigenous Australian artwork and imagery for individuals and organisations, Reconciliation Action Plans, Aboriginal programs, and other strategic direction plans.
Her artwork has been selected at both State and National levels in prestigious art competitions and exhibitions, and her commissioned design and imagery work showcased to represent organisations and Aboriginal projects.
To learn more about Angela and view her work, visit https://angelamarrgrogancreations.com/
Who and/or where do you draw your inspiration from?
Creating works of art is a spiritual process for me and if I am not painting with a specific brief in mind I draw my inspiration from the natural world and my connection to country.
Is there a particular commission that has excited you the most and why?
Every commissioned piece is an exciting creative journey for me, favourite imagery works include ‘Wakulda’ and ‘Bringing Us Together Strong’.
I also really enjoy creating private commissioned pieces, I feel really honoured when I'm engaged to paint custom works for a special event or celebration that will have a forever home.
What inspired the Reconciliation & Campfire pieces?
Reconciliation was a commissioned works for the PCYC Nations of Origin initiative in NSW.
I’m a strong advocate of Reconciliation between Aboriginal Australians and the wider community, and creating a piece that symbolised the coming together of Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal people was a creative highlight for me. Reconciliation is still one of my favourite all time works.
Campfire was inspired by my connection to country and my people. It represents a gathering and the cultural and spiritual connectedness we all share. It's a bold and strong design that I believe also represents the resilience and strength of my people.
Which medium of art do you enjoy working with most? Why?
I enjoy a variety of mediums, however, my hand painted crystals and stones are my favourite art form. Creating unique pieces with fine dotting and layering techniques over many hours and days is a process that I not only enjoy, but it's a healing and therapeutic process for me. Creating special pieces for birthdays, celebrations or events has become a real love of mine and I hope to focus on my crystal healing orbs, unity orbs and stones next year.
You have had a gallery over the past few years, what was the best part of that experience for you?
Being a part of the creative space at Jacaranda House Creative Hub was a wonderful opportunity to showcase my works. The best part of having a working studio and gallery space was the interesting people I met during my two years at the Hub. Being able to share my love of my culture through art and language and my creative journey with our visitors was special times.
Name one BHAG that you've set yourself with your art?
I’d actually really love to have some of my works featured at Vivid in Sydney. Having one of my designs showcased on the Opera House would definitely be a highlight of my creative career.
What has working with Recycled Mats meant for you?
Recycled Mats was my very first creative collaboration. When JJ first contacted me about launching a new round mat range featuring my designs, I was extremely excited and happy to be part of the new direction in mat designs. I’ve enjoyed my ongoing working relationship with JJ and Recycled Mats and being a part of the talented design team.
I love their ethos of "for the love of culture, for the love of the environment" - I'm a huge fan of the product.
You are currently learning language, how is that helping you with your personal and professional journey?
The revival of traditional language is a passion of mine and being able to share my people's traditional language of Gathang, through my works has been and continues to be a spiritual and healing process for me.
Showcasing my love of language along with my creations fills me with a deep sense of pride, a belonging and a connection to my ancestors.
How does the artistic process make you feel?
Designing and creating has been and always will be a deeply spiritual process for me. I’m self-taught and come from a family of very talented artists, so at times I almost feel like I’m being guided when working on a piece. I usually create fluidly and although I may have a rough visual concept in mind, I tend to let things develop organically. My style of art although very symmetrical is essentially free form and other than the colour palette, I tend to just go with the piece and let it guide me.
Have you ever gone to an event and seen your mats being used that you weren't expecting? How did that make you feel?
Funny, it happens often actually, they are so wonderfully portable that I see them at lots of cultural community events, the beach, and sporting activities and I still get excited every time I see them.
Knowing that your designs are being used throughout schools and childcare centres across Australia fills you with?
My designs and the symbolism behind them are perfect for schools and or early childhood settings. I create as a celebration of my culture, however sharing and promoting culture with our young ones is especially important. I've found that early childhood centres in recent years have been very proactive in introducing our culture through art, language, music and dance, and it's exciting that Recycled Mats cultural designs have become a feature in many centres through Australia, and I'm proud to be a part of that.
What advice can you give to aspiring Indigenous artists?
Some keys points and advice would be.....if you are offered an opportunity to showcase your work, say 'yes' as exposure is key to establishing yourself and getting your work out there.
It can take many years to establish yourself as a professional artist, and then maintaining a presence and profile takes lots of time and hard work, in addition to the creative time to complete works.
Enter art competitions and try to exhibit in a professional gallery at least two times a year.
Social media is also great for sharing your work and even selling art, most Aboriginal artists have a presence on Facebook or Instagram and have a strong following, social media is also a great way to connect with other artists and collaborate on artistic projects.
Familiarise yourself with Arts Laws and Artists in the Black, they have lots of useful information and links on copyright, licensing agreements and generally protecting your works and designs. Lastly my advice would be to stay true to your style and stay focused and the rewards will come with time.