“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.”