DanceMeet contemporary First Nations artist Kyralee Shields

Meet contemporary First Nations artist Kyralee Shields

After launching the Next Steps project this year, Energetiks were thrilled to have the opportunity to collaborate with Kyralee Shields. The Next Steps Project aims to help causes that are significant to the dance community. We’re incredibly excited to partner with Kyralee in an effort to support the Rekindling Youth Program and Bangarra’s Regional Workshops. This program has been designed to maintain and nurture indigenous dance and culture.

We’re also lucky to collaborate with contemporary First Nations artist Kyralee Shields, a proud Darug and Darkinjung woman whose work has proudly been placed on our limited edition charity bags available instore and online. 100% of the profits will be donated to the Rekindling Youth Program and Bangarra’s Regional Workshops. We had the chance to chat with Kyralee and discover more about her art, process and experience as a proud Darug and Darkinjung woman. Read the interview below.

Energetiks: Tell us about yourself and your current artwork.

Kyralee Shields: I’m a proud Darug and Darkinjung woman. I’m a 31 year old mum to three young children and have a wonderful partner. I have always been a very creative person which I’ve expressed through a variety of channels. Over the past few years I’ve felt a growing need to express my connection to culture through my paintings.

E: Can you share a little about your indigenous heritage, and how that has inspired the incredible artwork you create?

KS: Embracing my Indigenous heritage is so important to me because my grandmother lost five children to the Stolen Generations including my mother. After being removed by the police at age five, my mother spent her childhood deprived of family contact and her connection to culture severed. At 16, she ran away and found her parents again. Our culture and heritage is a mixture of beautiful, ancient traditions, strong connections to land and our people. I attempt to capture this in my paintings, but also the hurt and damage that has been done as well. From all of this, I gather my inspiration to create my artworks which are a celebration of my freedom to express my cultural identity; a freedom that was denied my mother, and all my maternal grandmothers going back to presettlement. My modern contemporary artwork aims to represent and applaud them whilst still honouring traditional form and will inspire pride for our culture in my children and their descendants.

E: What does the creative process look like for you?

KS: My creative process varies for each artwork. When I have a specific meaning I want the painting to portray, I will sketch a few mock ups to work out the best composition. Other times I paint based on intuition and let the story evolve with each stroke of the paintbrush. 

E: We absolutely love ‘When the Stars Align’, and the meaning behind the piece really spoke to us: “when the stars align and we end up being in the right place at the right time. As though, in those moments, fate guided us to exactly where we were meant to be.” Was this inspired by a moment in your life, or is there one that comes to mind for you?

KS: When the Stars Align was inspired by my view on life. I’m a big believer in fate and trusting that everything will work out exactly how it’s meant to.

E: The colour palette you use across your artwork is absolutely beautiful, is this an aesthetic or symbolic choice, or both?

KS: My preferred colour palette is a blend of pastel hues inspired by traditional ochres and more contemporary colours. This results in a calming combination for the viewer. 

E: The playwright Bertolt Brecht famously said “Art is not a mirror held up to reality, but a hammer with which to shape it.” What impact would you like your art to have on our current reality?

KS: I am giving a voice to the generations of my ancestors who were forced into silence, and so that my descendants and family can say “we are still here and so is our culture”. 

E: Is there any advice or words of inspiration you would like to share with aspiring artists (whether that be dancers or painters!), or just the world in general?

KS: Create for yourself before you create for others and follow your intuition. 

We’re so excited to be able to help support Bangarra’s Rekindling Youth Program and Regional Workshops with the proceeds from these bags, thank you for collaborating with Energetiks on this project and providing your stunning print ‘When the Stars Align’.

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