Words: Claire G. Coleman
Dylan Mooney, a Yuwi, Torres Strait and South Sea Islander artist, works in a medium not traditionally associated with Aboriginal art: digital drawing on an iPad – a growing medium and a powerful one, with an ease of accessibility that empowers the artist and the work. Mooney is legally blind, I don’t mention that so the reader can see him as an inspiration or so you can be surprised by the perfect lines in his work, but as a means to explain his digital practice which allows him to work close in on a backlit screen.
“I work in these mediums because I love to draw”, says Mooney. “When I first started my art practice, I was a drawer and that was a steppingstone into my other mediums such as printmaking and digital illustrations.”
What I find most interesting about Mooney is his queerness and his blackness and how well those intersectional identities seem amalgamated. The conflict the uninitiated might imagine, between blak and queer, between modern and classical, between digital art and art in more traditional media does not exist except in the imagination of the new or casual visitor to the queer blak world where so many of us live and work. As the artist said when I mentioned his inter-sectionality, “it is who I am and it’s great to represent who I am within my work and tell these stories that other mob may be familiar with as well and also making that connection with other people who view my art.
”What the viewer and collector of Mooney’s work should find interesting is how cultured, cultural and connected his work is. “My inspiration comes from my family, community stories, my culture and events that are happening in Australia”, he says and perhaps that, connection to community and culture as well as the wider cultural landscape of Australia is where the artist’s strength lies.
Mooney has work in Queer at the National Gallery of Victoria, Melbourne and his solo exhibition On the Edge shows at N.Smith Gallery, Sydney in February 2022. On the Edge presents new work exploring native Australian flora, with works combining digital illustrations with hand-embellished gold leaf and ochre sourced from Yuwi Country.
Featured image: Dylan Mooney, Grevillea Venusta (detail), 2021. Digital illustration, available in two sizes: 120 x 85cm and 85 x 60cm. Courtesy: the artist and N.Smith Gallery, Sydney.
This article was originally published in Art Collector issue 99, January-March 2022.