We Talk to Bidjara Contemporary Artist Sheri Skele about her Artistic Journey and NAIDOC collaboration with Yarn

Sheri Skele with some of her original paintings.

Sheri Skele with some of her original paintings. Courtesy of Sheri Skele (Bigi Nagala), 2022.

We are very excited to welcome proud Bidjara woman and contemporary artist Sheri Skele to the Yarn Marketplace platform! Sheri is one of the many talented partner artists that we will be working with for this year’s NAIDOC collection. 

Through this interview, we had the pleasure of getting to know more about Sheri, her artistic journey, the inspiration behind her works and the meaning behind her painting for this year’s NAIDOC collection.

1. Tell us a bit about yourself.

“My name is Sheri and I’m a proud Bidjara woman and a contemporary Aboriginal artist sharing my culture, experiences and hopes for healing our history through my knowledge and artworks. I’m 35 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 NT called Nhulunbuy.

2. Tell us about your earliest memory of painting/drawing. 

“My earliest memory of my paintings always included a sun, house and my family. I've still got my kindergarten art book which my daughters love to browse through now. I've always enjoyed experimenting with my creativity and began painting in 2020 during the covid lockdown as a way to connect with my culture.”

3. When did you realise you wanted to develop a career as a visual artist?

“In the beginning, painting was purely just for fun. But, after many requests for commission pieces, I decided to take it more seriously and dive right in. Coming up with a name was my first hurdle as I knew I wanted to honour my Bidjara culture and first needed to get my hands on the language book. 

Once I was set on the name, I started painting as much as I could and quickly became familiar with my own personal style. Each step happened very organically, from building my website to collaborating with other small businesses to commissioning art for people’s homes. I feel very grateful for the entire experience.”

4. How do you connect to country and culture through the act of painting?

“Each artwork has its own story and meaning, drawing inspiration from my travels, experiences, the landscapes and country.” 

Sheri Skele painting in action.

Sheri Skele painting in action. Courtesy of Sheri Skele (Bigi Nagala), 2022.

5. What are your favourite artistic mediums to work with and do you work within a specific colour palette? 

“I think my style is quite unique and can be recognised through the peachy colour tones I mostly work with…

I mostly work with acrylic and love to add texture to develop the story and aesthetic. Recently, I began creating digital artworks too, which I’m really enjoying and I hope to develop my skills further.”

6. What is your creative process when painting?

“The process changes a lot actually. Sometimes, I have a very clear story, which makes painting straight onto the canvas very organic…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.”

7. What's your favourite artwork you’ve created so far?

“I’ve painted quite a few pieces that I’ve had a little separation anxiety over because I’ve loved them so much and I always have a connection to them, which is how I tell the story. My favourite to date was for my best friend because it was very personal and special.”

8. What has been the highlight of your artistic journey thus far?  

“The whole experience has been such a wild ride and I’m so here for it. I live for the excitement of new things and I love being busy. But, it’s 100% the feeling I get knowing there’s a part of me in so many people’s homes, and that other people enjoy my art - it truly warms my heart and makes me so happy.”

9. Who are your favourite visual artists?

“I don’t have a favourite artist to be honest as my taste changes so often… I've never really been the type to know artist’s by name.

I love how subjective art is and enjoy so many different artists, including Brad Turner who originally inspired me to start painting (his art is so beautiful). Amanda Hinkelmann’s artworks are also so gorgeous, and she’s been really kind and helpful when I've needed it. I also really like Jen Sievers style, she makes painting look so easy and simplistic when we all know it isn’t. I’m inspired by so many artists on my socials because I think everyone has such a unique and personal style which is what makes art so beautiful to look at.”

Sheri Skele with her ‘Golden Arch Collection’ of paintings.

Sheri Skele with her ‘Golden Arch Collection’ of paintings. Courtesy of Sheri Skele (Bigi Nagala), 2022.

10. What is your painting for this year’s NAIDOC theme about and what does “Get Up! Stand Up! Show Up” mean to you?

“I recently finished the artwork I did for NAIDOC week as I was really keen to bring my ideas to fruition. I decided to do a digital design as it allows for more intricate details. I wanted this piece to represent what’s important to me and where I’d like to see change and progress. 

It means a lot to me to be able to share my thoughts, feelings and hopes with the public and I hope it's well received. NAIDOC week…invites us to slow down and appreciate the many accomplishments of Aboriginal and Torres Strait communities…this year’s theme has such significance for me and so many others, as it’s really highlighting that the time is NOW…to encourage all Australians to stand in their power and to honour the importance of change by supporting our Indigenous communities.”

“I believe it's a dedicated time that allows us to commit ourselves to the cause of ensuring systemic change, and to keep rallying around our mobs, our Elders and our communities so that equal rights are cemented for future generations.”

11. How would you like to see people taking action in relation to this year’s NAIDOC theme?

“I feel that it's really important to do what feels right for you as an individual. I don’t believe that doing something simply for the sake of it is authentic and therefore the energy is often wasted. I’d love to see communities throughout Australia really get a better understanding of our culture, what’s important to us, what we value, and how we consider those issues are best achieved. My belief is that once that’s accomplished, we will naturally see positive change and dedication towards the cause because people will truly want to help.” 

12. Are you excited to see your NAIDOC artwork on clothing?

“It’s really exciting to see that Aboriginal Art is becoming more and more popular and it makes my heart sing when I see my art brought to life on merchandise.” 

13. Are you excited to be working with Yarn?

“When Yarn reached out to collaborate on this, I was absolutely thrilled as they’re really well known for supporting Indigenous affairs and communities through funding, events and partnerships just like this one and I’m super grateful for the opportunity.”


We hope you enjoyed this insight from Sheri, and keep your eyes peeled for this up and coming contemporary artist’s NAIDOC collaboration with Yarn! 

You can check out Sheri’s gorgeous contemporary designs via her Yarn artist’s profile here and her Instagram account ‘Bigi Nagala’ here.