This year’s NAIDOC theme is Get Up! Stand Up! Show Up! and we Business Chicks have been working with our member community to help educate ourselves on how we could use our platform to best support Indigenous women this NAIDOC week. That’s why we’re putting the spotlight on incredible Indigenous members, like weaving artist and Business Chicks member, Tegan Murdock.
When Tegan received the call to be told her artwork would be included as one of the several Melbourne tramlines during this year’s Art Festival, it resulted in her jumping around the loungeroom (honestly, we’d do the same!).
We love shining the spotlight on incredible women and their journey to leading a fulfilling and successful career, whatever that may look like to them. We caught up with Tegan to chat about her art, the Melbourne Art Festival and what being “Unapologetically Blak” means to her.
Tell us about your journey to become an artist. Was it a career you were always interested in?
Weaving was nowhere in sight as a career, I never had a career in mind growing up I just wanted to be a Mum.
It wasn’t until learning the craft from my beautiful Mum that it sparked an interest in me. Sitting and creating not only helped with my depression and anxiety but it allowed me to find my passion in sharing my Culture and breaking down barriers. It has been so lovely to see people from all backgrounds attend workshops to learn from me. It was never a career path, but I absolutely love what I get to do every day now.
How do you use your heritage and culture to inspire your artwork whilst also embracing your modern experiences?
My Culture has always been a huge inspiration for me, I remember as a young girl I loved learning all about it, we would always go out bush camping and sitting around the fire listening to stories – that has always been an inspiration to me. I’m always inspired by my family and the work they do. My dad makes artefacts, my mum weaves, my youngest brother makes traditional bowls, and my older sister Tamara (Maramayart) creates beautiful artwork. We all have something to share and that just inspires me to want to be like them and keep culture alive by creating and sharing with the world.
With each piece I make I add my own uniqueness to it whilst still using that technique that has been passed down from generation to generation. I like to add different natural elements of my hometown Dareton, NSW into my work as a connection to country.
You’ve said you love the grounding feel you get from weaving, often sitting for hours creating, do you use this time to almost meditate and reflect on life, or do you find yourself just getting lost in the art?
The grounding feel I get from sitting and creating allows me to zone out from the busy world, I always get lost amongst the stitches.
My Ancestors have been using Weaving as their healing tool for thousands of years. Our hands hold healing powers, they are the antennas of our soul; when we use our hands, they send signals of caring and healing to the soul. Our hands tell a story and mine are creating and healing through weaving.
Sitting and using my hands has allowed me to connect to my culture on a deeper level. I’m always getting special signs from my ancestors on what to sit with and create. My spiritual connection to culture is something I hold close to me.
How do you manage that line between being a creator but also marketing yourself as an artist and selling your work?
I don’t see myself as a creator but more a storyteller through stitches. Marketing myself and my work has been something that has been quite easy for my business. I don’t pay for any marketing it’s been all free by using social media as a sharing tool. I find by just sharing and telling a story has helped my business, it allows people to connect differently with your work. I’m a big believer in what you put out into the world will come back to you. I always intend on spreading a beautiful message of love and kindness.
How did you feel when you got the call up to be one of the several artists displaying their artwork across Melbourne’s tramlines during this year’s Art Festival?
OMG I was soooo excited! I screamed and was jumping around my lounge room; my girls knew something exciting had just happened: “Mum stop jumping!”
It is such an honour to have my work recognised this way. For it to be weaving its way around Naarm has been such an awesome feeling. I cried when I saw my tram for the first time. Tears of ‘is this really happening’ and ‘are we here finally celebrating Aboriginal culture this way?’ It wasn’t long ago that my grandparents were denied the right to sit and use culture for their healing, so the tears were definitely for them watching over too. I’d like to thank Jarra Karalinar Steele and Rising for the amazing opportunity.
This year’s Melbourne Art festival theme is “Unapologetically Blak”- what does this mean to you and the work you create?
“Unapologetically Blak” means to share our culture and Blakness proudly. We have been suppressed for way too long it’s our time to share our culture openly so the world can see just how beautiful we are.
For my work it means to be proud of what we have to share and offer. Our culture has so many beautiful elements to it and the healing strengths that our culture provides by sitting and being still is something non-Indigenous people can learn from.
How can the Business Chicks community support you and your work?
I think Business Chicks are already supporting me and my journey but by sharing my work and coming along to a workshop would be a huge support. Check out more of Tegan’s work here!
Feature image by Trent White Photography. Image One by James Morgan.