shelley conway

First Nations artist, a Gumbaynggirr and South Sea Islander man residing on Bundjalung country (Tweed Valley, NSW Australia)


Jason King is a local indigenous artist, born in Murwillumbah, raised in Tumbulgum, and has lived in the Tweed Valley his whole life. He comes from a large culturally diverse family and has built strong local connections to family and the community.

Jason has shown a creative flair for over 20 years, firstly in high school where he excelled in visual arts, and later developing his use of acrylic paints in painting local landscapes.

In 2017, Jason travelled through Alice Springs, Uluru and Ubirr in the Kakadu National Park, and was inspired by the storytelling from the rock art throughout this region. Whilst there, he also developed an admiration of artworks by artists from the Utopia region of Northern Territory.

It was through this exploration that Jason found his passion for Aboriginal and Islander designs as he began to discover an internal connection with his family heritage – being fourth generation Aboriginal and third generation South Sea Islander on his mother’s side, along with English background on his father’s side. More recently Jason has found a real connection to his ancestral land Gumbaynggirr (Coffs Coast) and where he grew up on Bundjalung country (Tweed Valley).

I integrate storytelling into my artworks, inspired by nature and through life events and experiences. It is the appreciation of the storytelling that I hope to resonate with those viewing my artworks.



Acrylic on canvas

The centre of this artwork represents the path that an Indigenous Transgender person (Sista Girl or Brotha Boy) travels in their journey to be, or become, their true self.   

Along this journey, they are listening to their inner self, and building inner strength, to make both physical and mental changes to fulfil their truth.   They experience support from family, friends and Community along some of this journey, with other parts of the journey being so personal that it is taken alone.

Fingerprints symbolise identity – it does not matter how others see me; I will always be this person.

The colourful spirals represent the cross-section of a banana plant, which produce both male and female flowers on a single plant.  As banana plants only fruit once, they are cut down after fruiting which then encourages new growth. This is similar to setting our past free, to move on and grow.

My personal connection to this artwork comes from growing up in a small riverside village, as a member of a family with Aboriginal, South Sea Islander and English heritage, and going through a period of feeling like ‘I don’t fit in’ – as I later became aware that I was also the only gay man in the Village.

I empathise with the Sista Girls and Brotha Boys and their fear of Community non-acceptance, as I kept my true self hidden from others throughout my childhood and teen years. In my 20’s I found the inner strength to go on a similar journey of being my true self, finding acceptance and support from my family, friends and Community. More recently I have found a real connection to my ancestral land Gumbaynggirr (Coffs Coast) and where I grew up on Bundjalung country (Tweed Valley).

Life Apparel Co is an advocate and a proud member of the Indigenous Art Code since 2017.
The Indigenous Art Code is a system to preserve and promote ethical trading in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Island art. As an Australian non-Indigenous owned business, we share the responsibility to raise standards in this field and be an example on how to conduct business. 

The Code oversees dealings and supports the rights of Indigenous Artists to negotiate fair terms for their work and gives you, the customer greater certainty about an artwork’s origin.