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Young First Nations artist Tiarna Herczeg taking the scene by storm

Phoebe Blogg -

Known within the Indigenous art community as a talented emerging artist, proud Kuku Yalanji and Hungarian woman Tiarna Herczeg's passion for storytelling, colour and expression drew her into the creative world and a successful artistic career.

“I come from / Kuku Nyungkul warra, I am a descendant of Bluja King Kunarra and am connected to families Stuckey, Alberts, Pringle and Woibo. My art journey began as a child, I'd say. I have always had a strong interest in colour, design and art. I’ve always been obsessed with connection, whether that's between one another or to flora and fauna," she told StyleUp.

“We are all one and that's something that has been instilled in me from a very early age.” 

“My art career began after I dropped the law degree I was studying. I went through some significant trauma and at the time felt I had nothing left to lose. I didn't know art was a viable career because I didn't know anyone who was a successful artist. I just wanted to do what I love. Mum has always told me that. You got to do what you love and you will be successful because you will always have passion and motivation.”

First Nations artist Tiarna Herczeg. (Image: double.online)

 

When discussing how she accumulated recognition and respect within the arts Herczeg says it all started with her posting her work online and on social media.

“I started sharing my work online just to watch my own progress as I had jumped into an arts degree and at the peak of COVID someone sent me a message asking if they could buy one of my works. From then on, I started selling artworks … mind you they were about $20-50 each, but it started to gain enough traction that galleries started to pick me up,” she said.  

“Since then I have gained gallery representation and watched my dreams unfold before my eyes. I’ve collaborated with brands that I adore, exhibited between Eora and Naarm and continue to learn and grow.”

Herczeg has also been strongly inspired by her culture and upbringing.

“My creative process has always been driven by my hands. Sounds funny, but I really do have an electricity I feel in my heart that reaches my hands and urges me to paint. I don't plan what I will paint but oftentimes I paint from memory. Memories of places I have lived, visited or dreamt of. For example, I have the urge to paint, so I do and I learn from my work- asking myself questions like… “what does this work remind me of”, “ where do these colours come from”, “what do the shapes tell me,” she said.

“Other times a memory flashes before my eyes, like my cousins and I putting nets over my family's mango trees in Rockhampton Queensland and cracking coconuts on the rocks in our driveway. Like most abstract work it's all about feeling. I don't practice traditional Yalanji art because no one has taught me, I instead use my own practice to share my own stories.  

“I would say a lot of my work has to do with the feeling I get when I'm up North. I didn't grow up on Country, this is mainly due to my great-grandmother being stolen/ forcibly removed, my nan and her family being forced to live out in Sandy Creek QLD and then marrying my pop down here in NSW, where they would raise my mum and her three siblings. We just migrated.”

Herczeg noted that living off Country doesn’t make someone any less Indigenous.

"As an adult, I know it’s not my fault I wasn’t born on Country. As a First Nations person, I know it’s my responsibility now to start my own journey to connect with Country. I’m figuring it all out and I think that I'm finally at a really exciting part in my life where I'm able to travel and spend more time up on Country,” she said. 

 

Tiarna Herczeg pictured with one of the rugs she designed in collaboration with Double Online.Image: double.online)

 

 

Aside from her culture being the backbone of her works, Herczeg states that her practice is also intertwined with her identity as an individual.

“My practice is a journey because it’s intertwined with my identity. Most recently I’ve made the decision to not use language. I had someone question my use of language and I think although my intentions were right, more than anything it made me realize that perhaps what I'm wanting to share with my audience now could be clearer,” she said.

“I’m looking to trend in a direction where my work is understood and this comes with context. I’m glad that I have the opportunities and moments for reflection to help me grow and lead with purpose.

“In my life many teachers have told me I'm a sculptor at my core and I'd have to agree with them. I love exploring new ways of depicting things. Taking something as it is, and learning about the many ways one person may see or experience it. Painting is a language I'll be learning for a lifetime, but it is one I feel confident and easiest to communicate with. The freedom in painting abstract is what attracts me most.”

Tiarna Herczeg pictured with one of the rugs she designed in collaboration with Double Online. (Image: double.online)

 

 

With 2023 having been a busy year for the young artist, 2024 projects are also bound to make waves.

“To start 2023, I released a T-shirt with a local Sydney clothing company, called Pseushi. We made Invasion Day Tee’s and donated 100% of the profits to both NAAJA (North Australian Aboriginal Justice Agency) and ALS (Aboriginal Legal Service). Totalling around $20,000,” Herczeg told Style Up.

“Even though I’m still so early in my career, it felt really nice to start an initiative to give back and raise awareness. Once again this is something that I owe to my mother. I remember throughout high school I would spend my weekends with mum doing food runs in Doonside, dropping off hampers to local people in need as she worked for a community centre there. If one goes up, we all go up.

“2023 was a huge year for me. I achieved so much and it's only when I get the opportunity to stop and reflect that I can recognise that. I started the year with my first solo show under-representation and ended the year exhibiting with RM Williams and Sydney Contemporary. Both huge steps in my career.”

Having already collaborated with popular Australian rug company Double Online, and scheduled a variety of upcoming projects, Herczeg has kicked off 2024 in the best way possible.

“I’m having a solo show this year in July and it’s my goal to make this show a sensorium. Not only because I want to move towards a more accessible experience for all people but because It's a strong way for me to invite the audience into my world… rather than focusing predominantly on visuals, bringing the audience in to listen, to touch and maybe to taste? who knows,” she said.    

“I have two solo shows, one in July in Woolloomooloo and one in September up in Darwin. So my 2024 is quickly filling up.”

Tiarna Herczeg at the RM Williams store opening, seated below her artwork. (Image: Instagram: @tiarna.herczeg)

 

 

When asked the advice she would share with other inspiring Indigenous and First Nations artists, the young artist said success can not be reached without help; learning and leaning on others is all part of growing, developing and learning.

“You don't have to do it all alone. It's okay to ask for help and to lean on others. Be yourself, never stop learning and move with intent. I remember reading this quote on Instagram, it said… “Show up to a room like your Elders sent you.”, I love this quote because in all of it, it says, know who you are/ where you come from, move with intent and with power all in one,” she said.  

“Other advice I would give is to make connections. Try to surround yourself with other like-minded people. When I moved out of home to Eora, I didn't know anyone and I didn’t have the opportunity to meet anyone because of covid, but social media has helped me connect with so many like-minded First Nations people. It's beautiful. I feel like I have a community here now.

Invasion Day Tee Shirt, Tiarna created in collaboration Sydney clothing company,Pseushi. (Image: Instagram: @tiarna.herczeg @pseushi) 

 

“I like to see painting as an action similar to picking up a broom and sweeping the floor. This helps me to let go of any external pressures around painting. It doesn't have to be a big deal. You can just do it. It’s not easy, but it's easier because I’m happy. Being in a career where I'm constantly learning and connecting with people is a dream.”

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