Sheldon Smith


Sheldon is a Bourke artist, descended from the Wangkumarra Nation, which has its traditional lands in the far north west of the NSW. Living and working in Bourke has provided opportunities for Sheldon to explore art, and through that, traditional culture.

“I started back when I was in school, painting in a standard non-Aboriginal way. Later on, I started painting Aboriginal art and the results made me follow that interest”.

Once the creative spirit was awakened in Sheldon, he could not let it go. Quickly moving styles and exploring creative options until he found a style all of his own, that he was comfortable with. Sheldon says that the spirit of invention and creativity runs deep in his family.

“My grandmother used to do art and do interesting things, like incorporate echidna quills and emu feathers into her art. I think that’s when I first got interested”

Sheldon now uses both styles to produce images, which incorporate contemporary modern painting styles with traditional symbolic techniques. In this way, an entirely new narrative is created through his work, which takes an age old traditional form, and brings it to life for a new audience.

(Describing a painting) “That’s the cod fish, and those symbols are Brewarrina, Bourke and Wilcannia, those are the big waterholes. That’s important because those are the biggest towns for us along the river – that’s how we see them”.

Sheldon displays and sells his work in Bourke and is happy to talk to visitors about his unique style, as well as his plans for the future, which include plenty of art, and lots of sharing.

“I’d just like to be able to keep painting, and maybe teach kids how I learned to paint the way that I do”.