Arts and Culture

Painter, Author, Thought-provoker

If there’s something Shawn Wondunna-Foley could never be accused of, it would be staying still.

Born in Maryborough to an Irish-Australian father and Butchulla mother, the 57-year-old has moved through a variety of locations and jobs, growing up in Hervey Bay, Mt Isa and Sydney and working in maritime electronics, technical design and cultural heritage in Hobart, Melbourne and K’gari.

That diversity of experience bleeds into his outlook and art, whether it takes the form of painting, drawing, sculpture or writing.

“Art is one of those things – it’s part of your DNA,” says Shawn, who has called the Fraser Coast home again since the mid-1980s.

His painting traverses a broad range of media and styles, from classic First Nations through to more abstract conceptual landscapes, but tends towards the traditional.

“It’s about finding something you’re passionate about and that resonates with you in a particular way,”

Right now, what resonates most with him is his writing. In the past five years, Shawn has written several books of quotes – called simply One, Two and Three, also featuring his own photography and artwork – as well as two spiritually focused books called Awaken and Infinite Existence.

“After my dad passed away, I had a bit of a spiritual epiphany and realised I needed to do some things a little differently,” Shawn says.

“Part of being mindful is having a different operating system; moving from head to heart, being intuitively guided, whether in art or life. I’m more drawn to writing right now because it moves me into a different creative landscape.”

Mindful he may be, but that mind of his is always busy with something, whether it’s his latest art project or his current foray into studying Social Enterprise.

“I do have a lot of things on the go, but it all balances out,” he says.

“I see myself a bit like the roots of a tree, constantly searching for nourishment. That nourishment gives life to the tree, just like my art does for me.”

The creation of this story and photography was funded by Regional Arts Development Fund (RADF), a partnership between the Queensland Government and Fraser Coast Regional Council to support local arts and culture in regional Queensland.

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