Before the untimely loss of our friend, revered Australian artist Craig Ruddy at the start of this year, Tigmi had been in conversation with Craig about featuring some of his prolific work as part of our art series. Sadly, this would not be a project we would embark on collaboratively together.
In the wake of his passing, we are honoured to be given the opportunity to represent Craig’s work on Bundjalung Land, the place we call home, one that Craig held so dear and often intertwined in his work, and his rich life within the community.
For this, we’d like to express our gratitude to his partner Roberto Meza Mont who has given us the possibility to do this.
We hope that in presenting Craig’s work in a way that is true to his essence, that we will also shine a light on the passionate plight of his charity work, which is, like his art, part of Craig’s enduring legacy.
We spoke to Roberto about how Craigs collaborative spirit continues to change the world.
Craig Ruddy is an acclaimed Australian contemporary artist, whose works celebrated Indigenous Australians whom he carried tremendous respect and admiration for.
A five-time finalist for the renowned Archibald Prize, it was his iconic portrait of First Nations actor David Gulpilil that saw him awarded with Australia’s most prestigious painting prize.
In life, he turned his own childhood illness into his superpower - forced to slow down Craig learned to sit and observe, which later gave him the ability to capture his subjects on a deeply personal level.
Creating an artists haven and gardens at his home in The Pocket Northern NSW with his partner Roberto, Craig carried inspiration from surrounding nature into his works. In his practice he created complex layering with his use of mixed mediums, working in layers with acrylic, oils, charcoal, pens, varnish and glass.
Can you tell us about the Craig Ruddy Scholarship for Flinders University, and what led both you and Craig to decide to devote so much to this particular area?
The Craig Ruddy scholarship was created to support First Nations medical students in The Northern Territory with their studies. There’s a real and urgent need for First Nations doctors, nurses and paramedics. When Craig was ill as a child, he was grateful for the care of good doctors. He also wished for some of the proceeds from his Archibald-winning portrait of David Gulpilil to benefit David’s community and region. Most people are not aware that many patients have to be transferred to South Australia for treatment as there is not enough infrastructure or expertise in the Northern Territory.
In September 2022, I was in Darwin to present the first scholarships to two female students and it was an eye opener to see how much Flinders University has done to bring medical education into the state.
Craig had a tremendous respect and admiration for our Indigenous peoples yet, at the same time, he carried a frustration and anger for the inequality and injustice they are still enduring.
Craig had a gift that allowed him to not only capture his subject, but also their essence. How do you think he was able to look beyond the veil and capture this so well?
Craig saw beyond the veil because he was a quiet, deeply contemplative and acutely observant soul. He knew how to slow down, whether that was walking through the garden, or wading through the ocean, he picked up on the details so many of us overlook when we're rushing about our busy lives. I believe Craig's reflective and gentle nature made him the beautiful artist he was, because he knew how to tread lightly and take things slowly in order to see the world in full technicolour.
"Craig and I met Danielle and Julian from Tigmi and we connected straight away... we love what they do. Craig wanted to show his prints in their stunning space and I’m glad we’re making it happen.”
When we speak about an artist's legacy, we can’t help but think of their most renowned works in which Craig has many. In addition to his incredible legacy in the art world, what do you think Craig would most like to be remembered for?
Craig was such a humble, gentle and kind soul who felt people could always learn from each other. I think he would like it if his art continued to open hearts and have us collaborate and unite for a better world.
VIEW THE COLLECTION
20% of all proceeds of the sale of the prints will be donated to Craig's charity 'Craig Ruddy Scholarship' at Flinders University Darwin.
For more information, or to donate to the Craig Ruddy Scholarship Fund please visit: