Artist Of The Month July 2018

Jessica Birk

Jessica Birk
Artist: Mixed Media Artist, Printmaker, Sculptor, Painter.

Jessica Birk was born in 1984 on the Northern Beaches of Sydney where she is still living and working. Birk is a proud descendant of the Yaegl people, from the Northern Rivers of NSW, The Clarence Valley.

A former Cromer High School student, Jessica graduated with a Bachelor of Fine Arts from the College of Fine Arts at the University of New South Wales in 2007. Since the beginning of her studies in 2003, Jessica has participated in a number of exhibitions including a Solo Exhibition at Manly Regional Art Gallery in 2006 and has continued to work on commissioned artworks. 

Jessica has won wide recognition for her work, including being named the joint winner of the 2009 QANTAS Young and Emerging Indigenous Art Award and as a finalist in the 2006 Parliament of NSW Indigenous Art Prize. More recently, Jessica completed an Artist Residency at the Bilpin International Ground for Creative Initiative and a Solo Exhibition at Willoughby Council's Incinerator Art Gallery in 2012. 

Gawura - Whale Stories, Guringai Festival Art 08/09
Acrylic on Canvas Board
In Public Collection - Willoughby City Council

The Lonely Fisherman - Dee Why Lagoon
Acrylic on Canvas
In Private Collection

Etched Ceramic
In Private Collection

Through her art, Birk asserts herself as a contemporary storyteller of the Yaegl people and her art-making practice allows her to explore to what extent she can imprint her identity and personal experiences, as well as the notions of belonging and familial lineage, through the imagery, the colours, the patterns and the forms in her work.

Birk has a strong connection to both the Northern Beaches and the Northern Rivers areas of NSW. Her work focuses on these areas and aims to articulate her feelings of belonging that are tied to these places. Having grown up on the Northern Beaches Birk has grown to know and respect the area over time and her connection to the Northern Rivers is through her mother's family, a legacy and gift given to her as a descendant of that land.

For Birk, the notion of belonging is an abstract one and she aims to develop a visual language that enables her audience to grasp the implicitly rich understanding of a landscape where belonging means knowing your country intimately. As such, every component of her images have a meaning where the colours, the patterns and the forms all combine to visually articulate the 'holistic' experience of the landscapes.

Says Jessica, "This understanding of country allows for a two-way communication to evolve, between those belonging and the country to which they belong. Country is spoken to, sung to, loved and mourned, just as if were a family member. This personification of the landscape allows a more personal interpretation of what lies in it; everything then has a purpose and a story to tell, from the colours of the landscape right down to the stones within it."

The imagery Birk uses serves as a metaphor for the strength and enduring quality of the ancestral presence within the landscape. 

An 'abstract' landscape becomes intrinsically more literal through a 'holistic' representation of a landscape and thus includes its aesthetic qualities, its colours, textures and representational forms, but also its past, its future and its stories."

Jessica says "By doing so I want to show that in order to tap into this collective wisdom and knowledge of the land you need to learn to love and look after it as a living entity. A landscape becomes intrinsically more literal through a 'holistic' representation of a landscape and thus includes its aesthetic qualities, it's colours, textures and representational forms, but also it's past, it's stories, it's present and it's future."

Narrabeen Lagoon - Caretakers
Acrylic on Canvas Board
In Private Collection

Cromer Creek - Multiple Perspectives
Acrylic on Canvas 
In Private Collection

The artworks below featured in the Indigenous Law Bulletin May/June, 2012  Volume 8 Issue 1.

Narrabeen Lagoon Catchment
Acylic on Canvas
In Public Collection - Narrabeen Environment Center

Manly - Northhead
Acrylic on Canvas
In Private Collection

Narrabeen Lagoon
Acylic on Canvas
In Private Collection

Bloodlines And Coastlines Exhibition

Fri 06 July, 9am - 5pm
InTransit Art Space

An exhibition of ceramics and works on paper created by Bradfield Senior College students and artist Jess Birk which celebrates ancestry, place and the legacy of Barangaroo; a courageous and powerful Cammeraygal woman. This project was made possible through a partnership between artist Jess Birk, Bradfield Senior College, the 2018 Gai-mariagal Festival and North Sydney Council. InTransit Art Space is open Mon – Fri, 9am – 5pm.

Cost: Free

Enquiries: 9936 8192, Email:


Dyinda Designs.

Aboriginal Artists and cousins Jessica Birk and Frances Belle Parker come together in the colourful new creations of Dyinda Designs.
'Dyinda' meaning 'sister' in Yaygirr, a word that defines their kinship connections has inspired these two 'sisters' to combine forces. 
Designing objects that celebrate their connection to Yaegl country, it's language and their family, is the focus.

The girls are creating colourful but sophisticated Limited Edition designs that evoke memories of their own artistic styles.
Dyinda Designs include a range of beautiful and functional objects printed onto and made with quality fabric and card.
Quality products made with love, most sewn and printed on Yaegl country in Northern NSW. 
Frances and Jessica aim to celebrate and support local business; but also to make their art accessible through the current and future creations of Dyinda Designs.
Find out more at:

Jessica Birk - More Works

Lagoon - Dislocated Country 

North Sydney Council Traffic Light Box Public Art
Separated by