Internationally and nationally renowned First Nations artist, Digby Moran, has died.
The 71-year-old died suddenly on Monday in his home town of Lismore in northern New South Wales.
The Bundjalung man was a prolific artist and his works are held in the collections of Tweed, Lismore and Grafton regional galleries.
He was also a frequent exhibitor in galleries in Germany.
The Bundjalung artist was born at Ballina and raised on Cabbage Tree Island. It was this coastal childhood that he returned to as an artistic theme in his later years.
The abstract playful works focus on sand crabs, fish, and lobsters and the fun of his boyhood explorations on Cabbage Tree Island.
“We all looked after each other, [they were] the best memories of my life, growing up down there,” Mr Moran told the ABC in an interview in 2014.
Artist leaves behind ‘diamonds’
Perhaps his most significant contribution to the art world was his diamond motif, which was inspired by a pair of historical Bundjalung hunting clubs acquired by the Grafton gallery.
“He was really influenced by these Bundjalung clubs,” Lismore Regional Gallery director Brett Adlington said.
“These clubs had this exquisite diamond pattern and he’d been starting to play with this idea and he’d produce these incredibly huge works of amazing details of these concentric diamonds.
“He wasn’t afraid to experiment, that was the great thing. He had figurative work and he had highly detailed work.”
Mr Adlington said Mr Moran gave a great deal to the community and was held in deep regard.
“There were no airs and graces about him. He was just a very humble man with a generous spirit,” he said.
“He had this incredible career, exhibiting in Germany and winning national art awards, but really keen to share his stories and just chat with people.”
The people’s choice
It was Mr Moran’s style of communication and commitment to his artistic audience that made his exhibition the most-visited exhibition the gallery has held.
An accomplishment made even more astounding because the exhibition was made up from an entirely new body of works. The 2017 flood had submerged his Lismore art studio and destroyed countless paintings and other works.
The artist was a frequent guest at schools, working with children in art education.
“He was a wonderful artist who also dedicated his life to helping mentor young Indigenous artists,” the state member for Lismore, Janelle Saffin, said.
Mr Moran leaves behind his partner Kerry Kelly, three daughters, and a son.
In a statement Kerry Kelly said the family was devastated and that Digby Moran would be sorely missed.
She thanked everyone for their support and said the artist received great pleasure from reading the community’s comments on social media and letters.
Mr Moran’s family has given permission to publish his photograph.