Gavin Wanganeen is an Australian Football League (AFL) legend, acclaimed contemporary Indigenous artist and Aboriginal activist.

THE AFL LEGEND

Two-time Premiership winner, member of the AFL Hall of Fame and Brownlow medalist, Gavin Wanganeen is reputed as one of the best to ever play the game.

Gavin’s AFL career spanned 300 senior games at the Essendon and Port Adelaide Football Clubs, earning him countless accolades, including the dedication of a grandstand at Adelaide Oval in 2015, in recognition of his outstanding contribution to the game.

Gavin blazed a trail as the first Indigenous player to receive a Brownlow medal and reach 300 games. Having retired from the AFL over a decade ago, he continues to inspire and break new ground through his work as a contemporary Indigenous artist.

THE ARTIST

Gavin was born in Mount Gambier, South Australia, and is a descendent of the Kokatha people of the Western Desert in South Australia. The Kokatha people hold the Tjukupa (lore) and have a strong connection to country, the night sky and stories in the stars – a source of inspiration for Gavin’s paintings.

Growing up, Gavin spent time on South Australia’s west coast where his maternal great-grandfather, Dick Davey, was a respected leader of the people of Koonibba Mission and the community at large. Davey was one of the first Indigenous people to be “permitted” to purchase land, and was a talented footballer, playing for the Koonibba Football Club, today recognised as the country’s oldest surviving Aboriginal football club.

From a young age, Gavin embraced a love of colour and storytelling through art. Yet it wasn’t until his twenties, through a friendly competition with his Indigenous Port Adelaide Football Club teammates to produce an artwork from their respective regions, that Gavin made the life changing decision to start painting.

Gavin began exploring his ancestral links on canvas, recreating memories and capturing the beauty of the Australian outback. Today Gavin’s astonishing natural talent continues to blossom, attracting national attention and acclaim and firmly establishing him as a contemporary Indigenous artist to watch.

EXHIBITIONS 

Gavin’s first solo exhibition in 2016 was inspired by a camping trip with his wife Pippa on Wardang Island, where he saw a shooting star. The experience had a profound effect on him, connecting him to his Kokatha ancestors and inspiring him to further explore this spiritual relationship through art.

SOLO EXHIBITIONS

Each exhibition showcased a series of Gavin’s original acrylic on canvas paintings 

 

CONNECTED

April 2018, Hill Smith Gallery, Adelaide, South Australia

GAVIN WANGANEEN THE POWER OF FOUR

July 2017, The Henry Austin, Adelaide, South Australia

GAVIN WANGANEEN: exhibition of works

May 2017, Pullman Ritz Carlton, Shanghai, China

GAVIN WANGANEEN: solo exhibition

November 2016, Willunga Gallery, Hardy’s Tintara Winery, McLaren Vale, South Australia

GAVIN WANGANEEN: SHOOTING STAR KILIPI PUNKANAI

May 2016, Koori Heritage Trust, Federation Square, Melbourne, Victoria

 

GROUP EXHIBITIONS

SALA EXHIBITION

August 2018, Fox Gordon Cellar Door, Adelaide, South Australia

ART ON PARADE

April-May 2018, contemporary art trail featuring works by local artists, Adelaide, South Australia

RENEWAL SA CHRISTMAS TREE RIVERBANK PROJECT

December 2017, Public Art Installation, Adelaide, South Australia

OUR MOB EXHIBITION & TARNANTHI ART FAIR

October 2017, Tarnanthi Festival of Contemporary Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Art

OUR MOB EXHIBITION: PORT AUGUSTA

October 2015, Tarnanthi Festival of Contemporary Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Art, held in partnership with Port Augusta City Council

 

SPECIAL PROJECTS: THE INTERSECTION OF SPORT AND ART

AFL SIR DOUG NICHOLLS ROUND 2016-2018

Designed the Sherrin football used during the AFL’s Sir Doug Nicholls Round, May 2018

Designed the Sherrin football used during the AFL’s Sir Doug Nicholls Round, May 2017

Designed the AFL guernsey worn by members of the Essendon Football Club during the Sir Doug Nicholls Round, May 2016

CULTURAL EXCHANGE

Designed a unique AFL guernsey presented to Premier Li Keqiang of the People’s Republic of China on behalf of the Port Adelaide Football Club, entitled “Cultural Exchange,” March 2017

AWARDS

Victor Harbour Rotary Art Fair. Highly Commended; Star Dreaming, Grey. January 2017

 

COMMUNITY WORK

Gavin is devoted to giving back to community through his role as ambassador for Power Community Programs with the Port Adelaide Football Club and Deadly Choices, an initiative run by Aboriginal Health. He travels to remote Aboriginal communities, predominantly in the Anangu Pitjantjatjara Yankunytjattjara (APY) Lands in north-west South Australia, encouraging positive life choices through sport, education, culture and community.

Gavin is also an ambassador for the AFL’s Aboriginal youth football team, the Boomerangs, and travelled with the group to China in 2016.

In addition, the Gavin Wanganeen Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander scholarship at the University of South Australia was established in 2005 to enable members of these communities to continue their education and, in turn, become role models themselves.

“Football has not only provided me with wonderful opportunities, its also instilled a strong sense of achievement and an understanding that role models can make a real difference to people’s lives. I believe Indigenous kids need a range of role models. Yes sport plays an important role, but they also need exposure to leaders from a range of vocations: teachers, business leaders, medical professionals, researchers and artists.” – Gavin Wanganeen

 

FROM THE ARTIST

My mother was part of the Stolen Generation, taken from her parents when she was a young girl.

To learn about that, and come to terms with it, is a complex and powerful process.

I began painting ten years ago as a means of bringing me back to my culture. On the canvas, I am connecting with my heritage; the history of my family, my country and my people.

I really enjoy experimenting with colour and developing my own unique style.” 

Gavin Wanganeen

 

Website: www.gavinwanganeenart.com.au

Instagram: @gavinwanganeenart

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/gavinwanganeenart/

Twitter: @gavinwanganeen