Teacher Feature – Tori-Jay Mordey
In this Teacher Feature, we speak to Tori-Jay Mordey – the artist behind this year’s National Reconciliation Week theme artwork.
Tori-Jay is an established Indigenous Australian illustrator and artist currently based in Brisbane.
Over the years she has honed her skills in digital illustrations, drawings, painting, print making and film while also expanding her skills as a mural artist.
A lot of her work revolves around human connection and exploring her racial identity.
In her illustrative work Tori-Jay often combines stylistic cartoons with realism to help capture the complexities of our emotions; distorting and exaggerating the characters in a way that helps express and expose their vulnerabilities.
Could you start by telling us a bit about yourself?
I’m a Torres Strait Islander Illustrator and artist currently based in Brisbane. I share both my Torres Strait Islander heritage from my mum and my English heritage from my dad which I often reflect on in my Indigenous art practice. I’m well known for my digital illustrations, mural art and online presence.
Much of your work explores human connection and your own racial identity. How do you capture and translate this into your work?
Human connection to me is something very vulnerable and special, exploring my identity has been a constant factor in my life. Growing up as a biracial child I was automatically placed in an environment where I had to learn and grow simultaneously with both sides of my family. In my contemporary art practice, I would regularly reference my parents, siblings, and relatives as a way of showcasing my connection to my family and how these connections were deeper than just skin colour. That regardless of our physical differences, there is a bond and connection there.
Where did you draw your inspiration from for the NRW 2022 artwork?
“Be Brave, Make Change” was where I began my process of creating the characters, I looked at people in my life who I considered to be Brave, everyday people doing Brave acts, people Brave enough to be themselves, people Brave enough to help, people Brave enough to start the conversation.
What part do you think Aboriginal and Torres Islander artists play in furthering reconciliation, especially thinking about education and learning?
Art as a whole naturally brings people together which is why it’s so important to support artists and their work, having Indigenous artists can help bring a different sense of connection, educating people on cultural connections, protocols, ancestry, and in general the diverse art styles that many Indigenous artists have.
We’ve got to keep important discussions alive and strive for a better future, encourage genuine connection and push for equality and equity. We can make a change. But we can't do it alone. Be brave and start the conversation today.