22 April 2021
“Art is unquestionably one of the purest and highest elements in human happiness.”
There is nobody who understands this better than Urunga; a local artist you might walk past every day if you happen to commute from Sydney’s Central Station.
On an almost daily basis, Urunga creates pencil and charcoal sketches, paintings, and sculptures constructed from discarded objects; whatever is at his disposal. Passersby are able to purchase his work for a donation, but money is definitely not his primary motivator. “It makes me feel good when I’ve been having a bad time,” he explains.
Urunga’s definition of a bad time is probably quite different to yours or mine. Where we might consider a bad mood or series of annoyances to be a “bad time,” in Urunga’s world this can mean being victim to a number of bashings.
It’s pretty remarkable that Urunga finds the mental and physical strength to continue making his art while going through the cruel realities of sleeping rough. As well as the living conditions that go along with not having a permanent home, he is also robbed semi-regularly losing not only whatever money he has accumulated but his art supplies.
Anther local artist, Kimberly, also faces these challenges. And like Urunga, her art is created not out of necessity, but simply for her own happiness.
Urunga and Kimberly both have Aboriginal heritage which is rendered through their artwork. Rather than dot paintings, Urunga proudly creates line drawings and paintings in the style of his ancestors while Kimberly favours brightly coloured native Australian animals. In this sense, art is more than just a hobby. It’s an inimitable link to culture and family.
Urunga and Kimberly are exceptionally generous people and take pride in explaining the meaning behind their work. I have personally learnt so much from them that I can’t imagine ever being taught elsewhere.
Finally, art is a social connection. The first time I met Urunga was purchasing one of paintings and exchanging stories about our differing artistic abilities (namely, my remarkable lack of talent). I don’t know exactly what this means to Urunga and Kimberly, but I know that I’ve treasured the time spent getting to know them.
What more can I say? They’re bloody good! If you happen to cross paths please support these guys; and pick up a masterpiece at the same time.
Girls Locker Room Talk: art, articles and entertainment by women, for women (and everyone else)