Interview - Michael Connolly

Interview: Michael Connolly, Aboriginal Artist. Dreamtime Kullilla-Art - 14th November 2018


Dreamtime Kullilla-Art Dreamtime Kullilla-Art Facebook


Art Aboriginal and Indigenous

1. What is your background and how and when did you discover Aboriginal art?

I am an Aboriginal Traditional Owner - Kullilli on my father's side (far SW Queensland - Thargomindah/Eromanga) and Muriwari on my mother's side (Godooga/Brewarrina) far NW NSW
I did not discover Aboriginal Art - I was blessed with the gift of art from my ancestors who I respect and acknowledge in everything I do

2. When did you realise you and your family could actually make a sustainable living by doing authentic Aboriginal art?

After I got married and moved to Redcliffe - my father gave me some didgeridoos we had cut down years before when I was younger and said to follow my cultural links. Once we moved to Redcliffe in 1989 I started tracing my Family Cultural links and then started painting these didgeridoos. I started the Redcliffe Jetty Markets back in May 1996 with a couple of handpainted didgeridoos on a tarp and then to stall at Eagle Street Pier of a weekend and then weekend markets at Southbank which I had done for many years. We took the leap of faith in 1998 and I quit my job and we went full time into the business - creating a website and going online. Today we have a retail shop/gallery at Clontarf and I am back at the Redcliffe Jetty Markets of a Sunday and have a good ONLINE shop selling all over Australia and overseas.

3. When are you based, and how does the internet and social media help your business enterprise?

We now live in Redcliffe just north of Brisbane heading towards Sunshine Coast. We have a shop/gallery at Unit 7/349 MacDonnell Road Clontarf and have a website to help with online sales to be able to bring our products further afield. The Internet and Social Media are great tools to market our business and promote Aboriginal Culture and to a much wider audience.

4. What private and public entities have been quite supportive of your endeavors?

I am the Cultural Advisor to the Moreton Bay Regional Council where I live who appreciate my cultural endeavours - they support my business by buying gifts for their many international guests - there are lots of organisations in and around the SE Qld region who respect me personally and what I stand for and what I provide culturally to the community.

5. What's the best ways to work out the different between true Aboriginal art and fake art, for our readership and potential buyers who are reading this?

that's the problem - the fakes are good and the labeling of the products are deceptive and misleading so the customer is hard pressed to tell - one way is to ask questions about the authenticity - who the artist is - where are they from - where is the product made - is this an original handpainted by a royalty-paid Aboriginal Artist IN AUSTRALIA.

The Fake Art industry has been going unchecked for so many years that people have been conditioned to this fake crap that they do not recognise the real stuff - the have engineered their own Aboriginal Art totally devoid of any benefit to the Aboriginal People which is just so wrong yet it is not illegal to import Aboriginal Art which is why we have been campaigning fiercely to have laws changed to protect our Art and Culture.

6. What's your passions, in addition to the art sector?

My passions are my art ..... I just love to paint and I also love doing my spiritual and cultural workshops and readings to help people to understand themselves better and help them with their life journeys.

7. What's your motto?


8. Who and what inspires you?

I am always inspired by my ancestors - learning and being guided by them and applying their wisdom with my life journeys

9. What's the biggest business and life challenges you have overcome that you are happy to share with us?

Being Aboriginal Person and being an Aboriginal person in business is challenging - you have to prove yourself 200% every day - deal with racism on a daily basis but together with my wife we have celebrated nearly 23 years in business - so we much be doing something right. I do not take a backward step and I call a spade a spade. I recently got voted No 17 of top 30 Most Influential Persons in my community which I am very proud of. We have had many ups and downs - been ripped off dozens of times but we are still here. We are strong advocates for the fight against the Fake Art and inch by inch we are making some ground and getting the Powers that Be looking and talking so my quest now is to get them to do something - time for action.

10. What forms of marketing, media and promotion have you found to be most effective of your beautiful art?

Obviously having a good website - good social network and be constantly promoting and speaking to people - word of mouth is a wonderful reference.

11. Is you art only found in your gallery, or have you ever had it on display or on sale at other galleries or festivals etc?

My art is mostly found in my Gallery but have had a number of exhibitions here in Australia and overseas such as Brunei - Malta - India - China - Switzerland over the years.

12. How would you like to be best remembered?

I would like to be best remembered as the guy who help stopped the Fake Ark and restored Aboriginal Art by Aboriginal Artists to this Country and set legal precedents to prevent the further bastardising of our Art and Culture.

13. What's your current and upcoming projects?

I am currently planning on going Walkabout for a week out to my mother's country and get reconnected again - lie in the dirt. These last few months have been very challenging and culturally draining so need to charge the cultural batteries and defrag and do a spiritual healing and then I want to get down and dirty with my paints and canvas and create some new and deadly artworks with a new perspective and energy.

14. Any message for our fellow Australians?

LISTEN - LEARN - RESPECT - 3 simple words.