ABORIGINAL DOT PAINTING

Daisy Hill

JUNE 2020

I first stumbled upon Daisy’s work when Jesinta Franklin posted an artwork and tagged the artist @daisy_in_dots on Instagram. I am someone who loves colour and when used or worn, I honestly believe it is an instant mood lifter, so you can imagine that when I saw Daisy’s artworks it was an instant love affair. Daisy is a proud decedent of the Muruwari People, she is a storyteller and a self-confessed chatterbox. With a deep connection and understanding to Country, Daisy says she is often inspired by the beauty in our environments that constantly surrounds us. When chatting to Daisy it is clear that she is passionate and cares deeply about every story she tells through her artworks. I’m so glad that I got to chat to Daisy about her journey so far and what her plans for the future are. I hope you find this interview as refreshing as Daisy is, and inspires you to be your authentic self.

Your journey to becoming an artist is quite an interesting one. In the ‘Right Remark’ podcast by Vanessa Barrington, you said you have always been a creative person, you worked being a visual merchandiser for quite some time before becoming an artist. Going back to your childhood, were you creative then too? During your childhood was there ever any ‘sign’ that pointed you in the direction of later becoming the artist you are today?
I was the kid who would be out to dinner with my family at Pizza Hut colouring in the placemat and decorating the cardboard drink coasters. I have a memory from as young as five years old practising my signature for hours on end. Who knew thirty years later I would be signing artworks! Throughout my schooling, I always opted for the creative subjects - art, home economics and drama. I was never good with maths or computers! I’m a real hands-on visual type of learner who needs to write things down or draw a plan.

You have also said that turning to art originally was a hobby or an activity that you could do for yourself, as a way you could express feelings and stories. What made you choose painting, and Aboriginal Dot Painting as your kind of cathartic release?
Aboriginal Dot Painting has always been something that both impressed and intrigued me. I would stare in amazement at the detail in these artworks and be so blown away. I wanted to paint an artwork that would take a long time, something I could spend a few hours each night working on. The repetition of the dots is a meditative experience for me that allows me to get lost in the moment. I’m a storyteller at heart—ask anyone who knows me and they’ll say I’m a chatterbox! I’m someone who has to paint the whole picture when I tell a story and go right into detail about each and every character or event. The dot paintings allow me to tell my story both visually using the symbols and patterns and through writing their meanings with each one. 
You are a proud decedent of the Muruwari People and have acknowledged that the land you operate on rightly belongs to the Yugambeh People. You are extremely proud of your family heritage, and throughout your artworks, you explore your own connection to your people, as well as share your culture and history with the world. That very first time you decided to paint, did you have a story in mind that you wanted to re-tell?
My very first painting was a gift to my in-laws. It represents the ocean and tells a story about the gift of life and how it’s full of highs and lows. I wanted this piece to be a reminder that no matter what we go through in life, there is beauty all around us if we choose to see it. Growing up on Yugambeh Country and living near the ocean, my greatest inspiration comes from the Sun, sand, water and seashells. My favourite stories always relate back to the beauty in the land and the way it makes us feel. There’s a deep feeling of connectedness to Country in every piece I paint.

After gifting your in-laws your first painting, what was the process of selling your artworks commercially like? As someone who had a career for many years before, were you at all worried about quitting your job or was it all a very natural process because you always had this connection to creativity and painting?
I was booked six months in advance with commissioned artworks and already had my first print series in the works when I decided to resign from my job. It was hard to take the leap and bite the bullet but I knew it was the right thing to do. I was being ‘called’ by the universe. There were so many signs telling me to just go with it and believe in myself. I knew I needed to invest 100 per cent into my art career and growing my new business, I couldn’t do both any longer.

Your Instagram account has played a pretty significant role in your commercial journey thus far, it was originally just a space for family and friends to see your process. It then turned into a catalyst for your now stockist interior store Kira&Kira to see your work, as well as connect you to consumers all over Australia. How has social media changed or impacted the way your business operates?
Instagram has played a huge part in my business! It has exposed me to people from all over the world! I’ve had messages from people in the Netherlands!! I’m so grateful that people want to follow my journey and learn more about Aboriginal culture through my artworks and stories. It means the world to me that people resonate with my art and see the beauty in Aboriginal storytelling. I’m so honoured to have the support of so many people, especially other artists and creatives who inspire me daily. 
Does it still feel weird to see your paintings in people’s homes? Do you ever just sit back and take in what you have accomplished in such a short time?
It’s the best feeling ever!! The thought that my artwork could spark conversation or curiosity in someone’s home or workplace is pretty awesome. And to think that my paintings may outlive me and still be telling my stories long after I’m gone is pretty damn cool! I’m so grateful I get to do what I love. It’s my passion and I truly paint every piece with intention and love and feel so blessed that people want to invest in me and my culture.

Looking into the future, where would you like to see Daisy in Dots go? I also like to ask each interviewee how they describe ‘success’ or what being ‘successful’ means to them because it is so personal. I would love to know your own thoughts on this.
 I have my first solo exhibition planned (the date is still a secret at this stage!) I also have some exciting collaborations in the pipeline with some other creatives! I plan to visit Muruwari Country (Bourke, Cunnamulla, Lightning Ridge area) where my ancestors are from and spend some time there connecting. I think I’ll gain some valuable inspiration and new knowledge I can share through my artworks. Being successful means I have found my gift, the thing that lights me up and drives me to be the best version of myself. I have a passion for what I do and it means so much to me that I just can’t do anything else! I feel fulfilled, I am able to be expressive, I have a creative outlet where I can be myself and I surround myself with positive, supportive people who lift me up along the way. I’m able to make others smile through colour, imagination, storytelling and education. That’s pretty special and that to me is success!

For any creative out there who is struggling, or is unsure if they should pursue their passion, is there anything you would like to say to them?
If it feels good to you then do it! Be your authentic self and don’t compromise on anything! Say yes to every opportunity and have an open mind. What is meant for you won’t miss you so go for it!! If you’re doing something you love and it makes you feel better and you want to share it with others then just start! You’ve got nothing to lose, you just have to believe in yourself!

To support Daisy on her journey you can view and purchase her artworks through her website here, and follow her behind the scenes on instagram here.

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