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Painting Ripples, Making Waves

Painting Ripples, Making Waves

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Nicky Bidju Pryor’s signature style of painting ripples and combining bold, bright colours with traditional Indigenous techniques has not only enabled him to stand out as an artist and build a business, but to foster a ripple effect of reconciliation.

His eye catching murals and yarning circles can be found in many schools throughout North Queensland, and he is regularly commissioned to complete artworks by government organisations and the corporate sector.

“The Ville wanted me to paint the Coral Reef mural. I don’t just paint something I don’t understand so I ask Reef Ecologic to help me understand coral. I wanted to capture a sunset behind The Ville so I liked the idea of having half in and half out of the water.

“I started doing my art again about eight years ago before my daughter was born and when she was born a year later I quit my full time job to look after her at home,” he says. “I started doing canvas and went from there to doing murals.”

“It was hard to make money as an artist at the start, but now businesses are starting to notice there is still a lot of Indigenous culture.

“It’s good they’re starting to try and understand about our culture and respect it.”

Bidju, meaning sea hawk, is Nicky’s traditional name, and was the name of his late mother’s business.

“She was a deadly artist with a big heart and she loved helping people,” he says.

“She would use her skills as an artist to get people off the street to paint and do screen printing.

“I took her business name and made it my own, doing murals and street art. People started hearing about me and more schools and preschools wanted murals.”

Nicky’s mural at Heatley Primary School, painted to promote the School’s Bush Tucker trail called Yimbur Yalga, meaning “Pelican Walk,” which was created using knowledge about Bush Tucker from Uncle Russell Butler.

Although Nicky still does digital artwork and canvases occasionally, painting murals is what makes him jump out of bed. He estimates he has completed over 52 murals, this includes collaborations and school projects throughout North Queensland, as his signature style continues to evolve, he is building a strong customer base and social media following.

“When I was dancing with the Mornington Island Dancers, they taught me how to paint traditional style, and later I started forming my artwork into modern and traditional style,” he says.

“Once I started doing murals, I felt like this is my thing, and created my own style which got me noticed.

“My style represents me as an Indigenous artist as I am evolving and changing and adapting to today’s society and I want us to work together. That’s why I paint ripples, it’s the ripple effect.”

By Julie Johnston.

Photography: Sonia Warrell – Hello Muse Marketing

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