Life, Art and Community

“I love showing people my art. Not many people use the colours I do, to me it’s like fire in me… when I paint it’s like fire,” he said.
Gerard, or G-Burger as we affectionately call him, has been part of Orange Sky since day one. His paintings adorn the walls of the office, and his presence within the Orange Sky community is always a familiar one. For as long as we’ve known him, art has been at the centre of his world – but it hasn’t always played a leading role.
G-Burger’s life has been a nomadic one, characterised by an array of jobs, colourful experiences and extensive travel across the country (he once walked 400km from Sarina to Townsville). His time spent living on the street and his sense of belonging to country provide him with a connection to the land that most of us could not comprehend. At many points in his life, the absence of a place to call home was an escape and – despite its unpredictability – provided a sense of routine. It also led him to discover his passion for art.
“I’d get up at 4am and walk into the city, catch the coffee van, then I’d wash my clothes and have a sleep in the park with the possums… I’d go up to Sandgate every Saturday because I liked the beach; I felt free,’’ he said.
“One day I just happened to go into a church where people were painting and I was invited to join in. I’d never even thought about painting before. The first thing I painted was a crocodile. After that I never looked back – I did my first exhibition in 2008 with just five paintings.’’
G-Burger’s vibrant paintings are reflective of his rich Aboriginal heritage, and with each brush stroke, he reminds us of the power of community and connections.
“I’m really proud as an Aboriginal person, as an Aboriginal Elder, as an Aboriginal community leader. I’m proud of my paintings, I’m proud of my people, I’m proud of my country and I’m proud of Orange Sky.”

Orange Sky Australia • 2020 • 17 Dover Street, Albion Queensland 4010 • (07) 3067 5800 • ABN/Charity ID: 85890622990 • We are a registered charity with the Australian Charities and Not-for-profits Commission (ACNC) All donations over $2 are fully tax deductible as a Deductible Gift Recipient by the Australian Tax Office


The Power of Connection

Thomas is a friend from Canberra , who candidly opened up to us about his experience with homelessness, drug use and how he managed to find his feet again.
“A connection can be that first step to a new start. It can give you a bit of dignity and a bit of pride to go on so you’re not down there feeling like a piece of crap. You need to have connections to at least get a foot up so you can start rebuilding your life.

Orange Sky Australia • 2020 • 17 Dover Street, Albion Queensland 4010 • (07) 3067 5800 • ABN/Charity ID: 85890622990 • We are a registered charity with the Australian Charities and Not-for-profits Commission (ACNC) All donations over $2 are fully tax deductible as a Deductible Gift Recipient by the Australian Tax Office


Topsy's Story

Let us introduce you to Topsy.

She is a Sydney girl, born and bred, but you’d almost never guess. She speaks with an acquired American accent, which is both endearing and effortlessly cool. Topsy has always loved the outdoors and the sense of freedom and adventure it brings. She now lives a quiet life in Brisbane, but for a large period of time, things couldn’t have been more different.
Topsy experienced nearly 30 years of homelessness and exclusion on the streets of San Francisco. During that time, she collected rich stories as well as many permanent tears.

“I’ve met homeless people who were dancers, teachers, nurses, even a bishop… Homelessness didn’t define any of these people, and I amassed some amazing experiences with many amazing individuals,’’ she said.
Topsy has experienced more than most – homelessness, domestic violence, poverty, drug use and illness. Yet she has a way of relaying her story with poise and candour, and describes in such vivid terms what it’s really like to spend close to three decades without a place to call home.

“In America, having been homeless myself for quite a number of years, you feel very alone… even though there’s a lot of people that know each other,” she said.
“It’s lonely days, lonely nights, it’s becoming very wary of people. There are times when you can hear a car door close or a front door close, and it can bring tears to your eyes.”
Topsy is one of our friends in Brisbane, who we’re able to provide an employment opportunity to through our Social Impact Washing program.

Watch the video below to hear more about Topsy’s story.

Orange Sky Australia • 2020 • 17 Dover Street, Albion Queensland 4010 • (07) 3067 5800 • ABN/Charity ID: 85890622990 • We are a registered charity with the Australian Charities and Not-for-profits Commission (ACNC) All donations over $2 are fully tax deductible as a Deductible Gift Recipient by the Australian Tax Office