Daniel O'Shane is the artist behind the striking design, "Reflection Mar-asmar" featuring in our 2019 NAIDOC, "Voice Treaty Truth" collection.
We talk to Daniel to find out more about his art and future goals.
My name is Daniel O'Shane, I was born in 1990 and for a majority of my life raised in Cairns, QLD, but frequently made lengthy trips up north to Bamaga and various islands where I received a profusion of knowledge, skills and exposure to my cultural heritage. I am also fortunate enough to have had my grandparents (on both my mother and fathers' side) as strong role models and cultural advocates for my family and my people. Their teachings have been monumental in my upbringing and shaped my cultural values. In my spare time (when I'm not at work), I like to fit in as much carving and brainstorming for new prints as possible. I recently moved back home (to Cairns) after a three-year stint in Bamaga as a construction labourer while my partner and I bought our first house, so art was put on the back burner for some time. I am definitely happy to be able to submerge myself back into my craft.
When did you start getting into art and what inspires you?
I initially made my first attempts at vinyl carving and printing in High School in my senior year. It was mostly to convince my art teacher that I was doing work while I really saw it as an opportunity to procrastinate and doodle on surfaces not intended for art work. It wasn't until I was 19 that I had a footy accident, suffering from a compound fracture in my lower right leg, leaving me bed-ridden and in a lot of pain that I searched for a distraction and an outlet - so I gave vinyl carving a go. I purchased a 2X1m silk-cut lino block (the largest one I could find) and once I started, I couldn't stop. Time would fly by and I was able to forget about the buzzing pain. Once the block was completed and my leg began to heal, I took the block to Master Printer, Theo Tremblay, with no ulterior motive other than self-approbation. From there, I had forged a close relationship with Theo and his wife, Paloma Ramos, as they both mentored and developed my skills and thinking. Since then, my work has been inspired by the stories I have received, the land and sea, song and dance, and even from the teachings I've acquired from my mentors and role models.
Do you have any goals you would like to reach as an artist?
For the future, I am aiming towards owning my own printing press and mastering the art of printing. To carve a block is only half the battle; to print the block is an art form in itself. Ultimately, I never want to stop learning and developing my skills and even be courageous enough to venture outside of vinyl.
If you could make one change to the world, what would it be?
If I had one wish, it would be for equal living conditions. For those people living in not only third world countries but also first world countries where there is no excuse for the poor living conditions and inaccessibility to fresh and fairly-priced produce. Instead, people are subjected to over-priced and spoiled food that is still charged at top dollar. It is incredibly frustrating and demoralizing to have been exposed to these conditions and to become a part of a stagnant cycle of bad, and for some, long life habits that are developed into a lifestyle according to it. Furthermore, to then be ridiculed for carrying out traditional hunting, even with modern developments, to be able to feed multiple families for a week from one catch, is absurd.
What's been on your mind lately?
With a lot to currently juggle; work, art, our new home, and my family, I try to always have a sense of balance. I want to be able to maintain and produce work that I can grow with and be able to exert my energy and attention to what is most important. But my art will always be on my mind, it is always a comforting thought to know I can find peace through a scrap piece of vinyl and my blade.
Shop Daniel's collection here.