We have just released a new polo collection featuring three pieces from Kombumerri and Butchulla artist Zowie Baumgart. The collection is named Reflections because the artworks reflect on family, nature and the connections that keep us grounded and grateful. We visited Zowie at her family home on Jagera country in the Gold Coast to speak about her work, how she creates her pieces, and how her art journey has inspired others to connect with their culture.
“So I started my journey three years ago. I saw a bed sheet with Indigenous art on it, and I purchased it. And I was lying in bed one day and just thought… I could do that!” she says, sitting cross-legged on her couch, surrounded by years of her artwork hanging on the walls. “I've always been a creative person, and I have done art before in high school, and did Visual Arts Cert 1 and 2, but that was my first Indigenous piece,” she says. “So yeah, I just grabbed a canvas and paint and created ‘Mountains’, which is available now in this collection. I didn't know it was going to blow up as big as it did, but I'm really grateful for what I get to do.”
By far the highlight of her artistic journey has been watching how her art affects those closest to her. “I've always been creative and I got it from my dad,” Zowie explains. “But ever since I've started Indigenous artwork, it's brought a bit of culture out in my father as well, which is really nice to see. Because when my mum and dad were back in their day, being Indigenous was tough. They were growing up in that era where people would tell you it was ‘embarrassing’ to be Aboriginal,” she says, shaking her head.
“So now it's nice to see my dad getting creative too, like doing his own artwork. He's been hiding it from me! He's like, ‘I'm not doing any artwork’, but then I sneak in the back room and there'll be a canvas half painted and he's doing it! I'll be like, ‘Dad, what's that?’ He’ll quickly come over and shut the door. But he's done so many of his mudcrab clocks. Dad catches these big muddies on the weekend. He takes all the meat out, glues it back together, dries it out, and then he paints them and turns them into clocks. It's just nice to see him be proud of his own work and be proud to show that to people.”
Her joy for her father is evident as she shows us the beautiful mudcrab clocks he’s created. And despite his shyness about sharing his artwork, they have even teamed up to explore their creative talents together. “I remember there was a big heart piece that I had to do for a foundation which went for auction, and he actually helped me out with that,” she says. “We did it down in the garage, we had the music blasting and we were just painting away. So yeah, seeing the culture come out in my dad has been something really amazing. I feel like he's been by my side through this little journey that we've been going on, which is really nice.”
Zowie's Father's mudcrab clocks
Zowie has noticed it’s not just within her family that art and culture has come to the forefront. “The explosion of culture is amazing. There’s so much art around right now it’s amazing,” she says. Her career has steadily grown since she first began experimenting three years ago. She now runs a successful Instagram where she does commissions and offers prints of her incredible work. Earlier this year Zowie and her best friend Kelly released Boobie Sista with Yarn, in partnership with the National Breast Cancer Foundation. The collection has been incredibly successful and has touched many women who have experienced breast cancer or have supported a loved one through it.
Recently, Zowie was offered her first gallery exhibition, with three pieces to be shown in Noosa and three in Melbourne. We asked her if she had any advice for someone starting their own journey of self-expression and she said perseverance and a good support system are key. “To young artists who are getting started I would say just keep going with it,” she said. “Keep practising, try different tools, try different paints and just find a good group of people that can help you through starting. Find a good support network because it can be harsh in the art world. But I think everyone is allowed to commit to their culture and paint and express themselves. I'm all for bringing everyone together. Let's go have a paint party.”
‘Reflections’ introduces some new, subtle colours to our contrast polos and features three designs from Zowie that capture the beauty of connections in the world around us. With its soothing and uplifting colour palette, this collection is ideal for the office, weekend, summery days out, and for sports and leisure wear.
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