Born: Burra Bee Dee Mission, NSW
LANGUAGE GROUP: Kamilaroi
COMMUNITY: Coonabarabran, NSW
Tony Sorby is a descendant of the Kamilaroi people born on Burra Bee Dee Mission outside of Coonabarabran, NSW. Tony was taken from his family as an infant and spent his childhood in various orphanages, foster homes and institutions around the state of NSW.
At the age of 12 years, he discovered his aboriginal roots. In his mid-20's after 24 years of separation he was reunited with his family. At various times, he worked as a wool classer, dug tunnels for the railways, managed a market garden and taught carpentry to indigenous juvenile offenders.
Tony's interest in art was sparked by a Czechoslovakian acquaintance who introduced him to the fine art of marquetry. With the discovery of his Aboriginality came the desire to discover his heritage and in his early 30's Tony began a formal course of study in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander history and culture. During this time, he also started to create artworks, experimenting with mixed media that included paints and wood stains and using wood rather than canvas or linen as his medium.
After fire totally destroyed Tony's art business in 1996, he took 4 years to rebuild his love of art. During that time, he rethought the style he would pursue and he now paints entirely on canvas and linen, his subject matter containing traditional as well as contemporary themes.
Tony regularly camps in bushlands and seeks inspiration from the lands, creeks and rivers. When doing so, Tony walks in the footprints of his ancestors and this gives him a real sense of identity and inspiration for his art.
- Aboriginal Health College of NSW, Little Bay, NSW
Awards and Recognition
1995 Invited to participate in joint Australian and Malaysian Aboriginal Art exhibition by Australian High Commission
1993 Merit Award, Kempsey Shire Art Prize Heritage Award
1993 Australia Council for the Arts Grant
Member of the Aboriginal Art Association of Australia (AAAA)
Registered with the National Association for the Visual Arts
Previous Member of Boomali Aboriginal Artist Cooperative Ltd.
Previous Member of National Indigenous Arts Advocacy Association Inc.
Previous Member of Bowral District Art Society
2016 - Journey Tracks - Kate Owen Gallery, Sydney
2010 - Tony Sorby's Kamilaroi Comes to Wingecarribee - Bowral District Art Society, Bowral
Selected Group Exhibitions:
2019 Defining Tradition: the first wave & its disciples, Kate Owen Gallery, Sydney
2011 - Karlangu Aboriginal Art Centre, Sydney
2008 - Australian Aboriginal Art Gallery, Sydney
2008 - Karlangu Aboriginal Art Centre, Sydney
2007 - Grand Opening Exhibition - Australian Aboriginal Art Gallery, Sydney
2006 - Contemporary Indigenous Expression Exhibition - Primrose Park Gallery, Cremorne
2002 - Juma Art - Grand Banquet Centre, Ontariom Canada
1995 - Invitation exhibition, UNSW, Sydney
1995 - Langkawi International Festival of Arts, Malaysia
1994 - Australian Craftworks, The Rocks
1993 - Masterpiece Pictures, Ultimo
1993 - Anadalou Gallery, Glebe