Mossman artist's colourful world of Indigenous Art


Karlie Brady


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ARTFORMS: Brian ‘Binna’ Swindley creating beautiful things in Mossman. Image: Karlie Brady.

Aboriginal painting is an art form that dates back thousands of years and is largely centred on storytelling; so this week at Newsport we take a look at a local artist who is sharing his ancient culture.

Janbal gallery is a 100 per cent Aboriginal owned and operated art gallery offering the public a hands-on experience with Aboriginal art and culture through private art classes and painting workshops.

Janbal owner and artist, Brian ‘Binna’ Swindley, is very passionate about Aboriginal art and said the gallery represents the Kuku Yalanji people.

“Janbal is all about sharing culture, art, and history,” he said.

“Visitors come here and they enjoy learning things about Aboriginal culture, about the rainforest and the Great Barrier Reef, and they want to learn all about our people.”

Mr Swindley has been an artist for over twenty years, studying an Associate Diploma of Visual Art at Cairns TAFE in 1989.

In 2007, he opened Janbal in Mossman and named it in honour of his mother Shirley ‘Janbal’ Swindley.

“My mum was an artist as well, in those days they painted on boomerangs, didgeridoos, and bark.

“My inspiration comes from my uncle who was also an artist and he had his own gallery in Kuranda back in the 1980s.

“We were not allowed to paint when we were young in those days, the old people were very strict, and so we sat and watched them.”

Mr Swindley said his work is also inspired by his country and over time his style of art has become a mix of contemporary techniques and traditional Aboriginal art forms.

“My artwork is always changing, it’s all about the rainforest, bushfood, shelter, and about where I go out walkabout.”

Earlier this year, Mr Swindley was presented with the Arts and Culture award at the Douglas Shire Citizenship awards, in recognition of his contribution to the community in educating the public about Indigenous culture, art, and heritage.

“I was nominated and I didn’t think I was going to get anything but I did and I was very happy with that, it was the first time I’ve had any high achievements like that in my life.”

Mr Swindley has recently completed a sculpture entitled ‘Dreaming of the Oldest Rainforest Bush Food’ located on Johnston Road in Mossman, commissioned by the Douglas Shire Council and Arts Queensland.

The rest of Mr Swindley ‘s hand-painted original works are for sale at Janbal Gallery, 5 Johnston Road, Mossman.

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