shelley conway

First Nations artist, a Bundjalung and South Sea Islander (Vanuatu) woman residing on Yugambeh land (Gold Coast, QLD Australia)


About the Artist

Growing up on the Tweed Coast, her family are a mix of Bundjalung and South Sea Islander peoples. Shelley's great grandfather was blackbirded from Vanuatu to cut the sugarcane on the Northern Rivers of NSW. For generations, her family has farmed the Caldera's red soil from the once active volcano known as Wollumbin - The Warrior Chief.

Her connection to self and the world around her reflects her relationship with Mother Nature. She honours her in every way that she can for her spiritual growth and uses her artwork to share the stories that the natural world tells her so that others can see the beauty through her eyes. Always on the look out for new ways to express her passion for nature and humankind, Shelley has a variety of artistic mediums she draws upon.

From sketching to painting on canvas, from hobby photography to most recently exploring her love for digital art, Shelley enjoys keeping it fresh and going with her creative flow.

"One of my favourite things about digital art is that I can still experiment with mixed mediums. I may plan with a pencil and paper sketch, incorporate any inspirational photos I've taken to set the mood, and then transform the raw design by putting it through creative software. Watching my artwork come alive during this process is such a buzz. Having access to hundreds of the most vibrant colour hues at my fingertips and finishing with a polished and print-ready design is quite satisfying."




The NAIDOC 2022 theme is an ongoing call for action: Get Up! Stand Up! Show Up! to amplify First Nations voices and narrow the gap between aspiration and reality, good intent and outcome.


Acrylic on canvas

"I wanted this piece to feel positive and fun by showcasing some of my favourite elements of Island culture and celebration.

These images and colours reflect warm memories shared during traditional gatherings with family. The brightly coloured flowers represent those that adorn the table tops in abundance as we feast together. The banana leaves arranged together with the fruits that fill our bellies. The younger girls dancing with swaying hips and confident smiles.

A modern take on old traditions, conjuring up joyful memories that feed the soul.”


Acrylic on canvas

The cowrie shell has been used for many years in multiple ways from currency to divination, luck and jewelry.

“For me the cowrie is a totem from my childhood. I was always mesmerised by my auntie’s long threads of cowrie jewelry and the vibrant colours decorating her walls. It stirs warm memories of the traditional women in my family and the feeling of belonging to a community connected to both the land and water.”

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.