Recently, we revealed our Indigenous artwork masterpiece created by a young and talented Indigenous woman of the Kalkadoon people, Brooke Sutton, a rising Indigenous artist from Bundaberg in Queensland.
In the blog, which you can read here, Brooke describes her three-panelled artwork that captured Glad Group’s story and journey, through her own artistic expression and interpretation. The unique artwork series reflects Glad Group’s identity told through our company’s family culture and human values.
We wanted to get to know her a little more and delve into her inspiration and passion for painting, so we caught up with Brooke for a fascinating interview. In this two-part blog series, Brooke explains what inspires her to paint, how she got to where she is today, and her experience painting commissioned artwork. Keep reading!
Our interview with artist, Brooke Sutton
Tell us about yourself so we can get to know you?
Brooke: My name is Brooke Sutton, I’m a 17-year-old Kalkadoon woman and a contemporary Indigenous artist. In the last few years, I have:
- Worked with kids at risk to paint a large wall at a local shopping centre which told a local love story;
- Sold paintings to the Australian Defence force, held combined exhibitions with my sister Chern’ee, and had several of my paintings publicly on display at the Pullman and Mercure hotels in Brisbane;
- Created several logos and paintings for corporate businesses around Australia and proudly created a painting for Queensland Births, Deaths and Marriages with my artwork to be featured on the new Queensland Indigenous Birth Certificate;
- Held two workshops for high school students, where my sister and I created paintings with the kids which were turned into vinyl wraps and put on the police cars there. I currently have a few really big companies I’m working with and really excited for the launch next year.
When did you start painting and what brought you to painting?
Brooke: I’ve been painting since I was six years old, having always been surrounded by very artsy people. My mum has always encouraged us to make cards and make our own presents, and dad’s a chef, so I’ve always taken a little bit of creativity from everyone.
As I’ve grown up, I’ve seen my older sister Chern’ee (established indigenous artist) go to all these fantastic places, meet all these amazing people, and just do all these really great things. When I was really small, I asked her if I could hide inside her suitcase and she could take me along so I can go somewhere really nice, and she said that I had to work for it if I wanted to go to these places. So that’s what I decided to do, and I’ve been painting ever since.
We love your paintings; the colours are so vibrant and unique! What’s your process to pick these colours and create a painting?
Brooke: I get all my inspiration from nature that I see, especially the colours. Some colours you wouldn’t normally say “I like these two colours together”, but they actually work well. I did a painting one time with orange and pink in it and never would have thought to put that in there (it was in a flower, and it looked absolutely gorgeous!).
So yeah, I get inspiration from everything around me and how colours mix together and in weird combinations. It’s really a lot about experimentation as well. I have my set of colours and I’ll decide to maybe try something new, add it in, and it will look either fantastic or I’ll have to fix it up. But this helps me build a broader range of colours to work with.
These paintings must take a lot of time because there is so much detail. What’s the longest time you’ve spent on a painting?
Brooke: I would have to say about six weeks. I did a big wall painting with my sister Chern’ee for a local shopping centre, and it took us every single day after school to finish it in that time. There was a lot of hours in that one.
You put so much time, energy, and a little bit of yourself into your artwork – is it hard to let them go?
Brooke: (Sadly) A little bit, yes. I look at them and they’re gorgeous and I can’t believe I made something that beautiful and it’s like, “Oh, I’m going to give this to someone else now. It’s going to be in someone’s home.” Although a lot of the time they send me a photo of it hanging on the wall, which I absolutely love, I cherish those. It’s in its new home and it brightens up the room.
What is your favourite painting you’ve created?
Brooke: Probably the ones I made with the kids at Woorabinda. It wasn’t just the painting, but it was the experience I had with them and meeting them all and talking to them. Getting to know each individual kid and how proud they felt afterwards when they saw the wraps with their artwork on the police cars, and even one boy who was really, really quiet went up and he spoke on the news and told everyone how proud he was and how proud his parents were too. It was absolutely heart-warming to see how proud these kids were.
You inspire these kids to want to be different, better or to move forward. So how does that feel?
Brooke: It feels absolutely fantastic that I know that I can make a difference to even one kid’s life, especially the kids at Woorabinda. Some of them were not the best behaved, but they sat down, and they started painting and concentrated the whole time and sometimes their friends would come and act up a tiny bit, but then they’d leave and go right back to the same spot and keep painting.
It’s just amazing to see that I can make even that tiny bit of difference and show them that they can do something. When I said I was 16 at the time they were so shocked because I guess they’ve never seen someone their age doing something like this. I really hope that some of them decide that they want something more for themselves too. And if I can even influence them the tiniest way, that would be just the best thing in the world.
What is the most important/significant symbol you put in your artwork?
Brooke: I definitely say the community symbols I use. I use community at least once or twice in every single painting I do. They represent people being together and the community that they create and are a part of and what they become. And it really represents everyone coming together, especially now in a time of reconciliation where everyone is working towards it.
The community symbols represent all these people from different nations, different lives, different backgrounds coming together and being a part of something bigger than themselves and being a part of a community that they can help to grow and help to develop. And it’s everyone coming together and being that community as really, we all should be. For reconciliation, it’s not just a piece of Aboriginal art you’re buying from an Aboriginal artist. You’re buying a piece of history and a part of culture.