Nicky Winmar making a splash in the art world

Winmar said his new-found passion was a relaxing change from his long footy career. “After all those years running around, painting really calms me,” he said. “Sometimes I’ll finish a painting and just stare at it for a couple of days.”“I love using lots of different colours. I enjoy using my hands and throwing paint on the canvas.”Winmar uses wagtail birds as his signature totem across his artwork. “Willy Wagtails are my totem, which is said djitty djitty in Noongar language – they are a sign of my parents who are no longer with me,” he said. Artist Lis Johnson who helped create the famous sculpture of Winmar in Western Australia, encouraged the former footy star to get into painting. “After creating his sculpture we became friends instantly,” Ms Johnson said. “One day back in 2018 we were in my studio I said ‘here is some paint to keep busy’. “He had never painted before – but the first piece of art he did right there and then was amazing.“He has no formal skills, but what he does have is bravery – he’s not scared to be experimental.”Winmar moved to Nagambie in regional Victoria earlier this year, where his artwork is exhibited in Mitchelton Gallery of Aboriginal Art.“I still get fans coming down wanting to see my artwork – it’s incredible to see,” he said. Details: mitchelton.com.au/gallery

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