Chern’ee Sutton is an Indigenous artist from the Kalkadoon people of Mount Isa in Queensland. Chern’ee began painting in 2010 after entering the Yoorellgoo Indigenous Art competition and taking first place in the open category.
Chern’ee has continued to paint and has since had her pieces exhibited across Australia, selected as one of Triple J’s 25 under 25 for 2014 and an Australia Day ambassador.
Chern’ee has also been elected onto the board for YMCA Youth Parliament in 2012 and has most recently had her artwork used as the official backdrop for the NRLS All Stars and as part of the logo for the 2017 Rugby League World Cup.
33C: Where are you from?
CS: My mob is the Kalkadoon people from Mount Isa in North West QLD, but I currently live in Bundaberg QLD.
What do you do?
I am a contemporary Indigenous Artist and I’m passionate about reconciliation and my people’s history and culture which I want to share with the rest of the world through my art.
What is one of the best decisions you have made?
One of the best decisions I have made was to enter my first Indigenous Art competition when I was 13. I didn’t expect anything to come of it but ended up coming first in the open category beating experienced artists. It was that competition and experience that sparked my passion for art and started me on my journey, which has just snowballed ever since.
What is one of the worst decisions you have made?
Letting my artwork be used on souvenirs that were made in China. Sometimes when an opportunity comes your way and you were as young as I was which was 14 years old you don’t look into the finer details, but that experience has now made me a lot wiser and opened my eyes and thankfully I only signed for 2 years and didn’t sign for the 20 year contract they wanted.
What are some of the barriers to female leadership?
I’m very fortunate that I have not had any barriers put in my way, maybe it is the younger generation that is more informed and educated about equality but I have been accepted as who I am thanks to all of the female leaders that have come before me, they have made my path much easier as a young woman.
What women have inspired you?
Jessica Mauboy has inspired me to be the best that I can be, I still remember her walking out of the desert to perform for the first time on live TV and through hard work and dedication she has now risen to the top of her field. Another of my inspirations is Linda Burney MP. I have met her several times and heard many of her speeches and you can’t help but to be inspired by this passionate woman. Finally my biggest inspiration is my Mum, who has worked hard throughout her life to provide my siblings and myself with integrity, high morals and a passion for life.
What advice would you give to empower the next generation of women?
Work hard at your passions and don’t let any opportunities pass you by, whatever it is that gets you motivated or inspires you, do it every day with passion and that is what will separate you from everyone else. If obstacles get in your way or if people try to knock you down, you need to get back up and fight harder to achieve your goals. You decide your own destiny and the path you will take don’t let other people decide for you.
What would you say to men about equality?
I would say that we are all created equal, regardless of race, religion or gender and to treat each other as we would like ourselves and our families to be treated, with respect.
What exciting project do you have coming up?
I have the launch of my new chocolate range coming soon “Chern’ee Sutton Originals” which is the first time Aboriginal art has been embossed onto a chocolate bar. My artwork will be printed on the chocolate bar in white chocolate and my artwork will also be used for the wrapper as well and I’m very proud to say they are made in Australia. I’m also working on the 2017 Indigenous All Stars Jersey design and have also just designed the 2017 Essendon Dreamtime Guernsey.
Do you have a website or any social media platforms you would like us to include?
International Women’s Month series
To celebrate International Women’s Month this March, we have turned our logo purple to show our support for effective action for advancing and recognising women.
This years theme is #PledgeForParity:
We want everyone – men and women – to take a concrete step to help achieve gender parity more quickly – whether to help women and girls achieve their ambitions, call for gender-balanced leadership, respect and value difference, develop more inclusive and flexible cultures or root out workplace bias. Each of us can be a leader within our own spheres of influence and commit to take pragmatic action to accelerate gender parity.
We are also recognising the achievements of some amazing women that have inspired us by sharing some of their valuable advice and how they are doing their part to empower women.