Digby Moran, Someone's Always Watching

Digby Moran, Someone’s Always Watching You 2, 2013

“As a boy growing up on an island in the Richmond River (Northern Rivers, NSW) a wise old spiritual man once told me “no matter what you do someone’s always watching you”.  I never really knew what he meant, but now I’m older and wiser I can see for myself what he was trying to tell me. It was his way of telling me that my ancestors’ spirits will always be with me and around me in everything I do in life.
It’s really hard to explain these feelings to someone who doesn’t have a connection with their ancestors but I feel it all the time, I always feel protected.
The painting means a lot to me spiritually, I feel the presence of my spiritual ancestors in this painting. These spirits watch over our mob in times of trouble. As soon as I finished the painting I knew it was special. I stood back to look at it and amazingly the five black lines started moving all around the canvas, the more I looked at it the more it happened. This has been the experience of everyone I’ve shown it to.  The black lines which outline the figure represent my spirit ancestors moving around in my community just as the lines  move around the painting.  I always feel them with me in times of need, guiding me and looking over me in my beautiful Bundjalung Country.”
 Digby won the inaugural People’s Choice Award at the National Aboriginal and Islander Telstra Art Award at the Northern Territory Art Gallery (Darwin) in 2000, his many exhibitions include, the Berlin Aboriginal Art Gallery (Germany) in 2001 and 2002, the New Media Gallery in Vienna, (Austria) in 2003,and solo shows at the Museum Hameln (Germany)in 2004,  in Duisburg (Germany) in Sept 2009 and Emmerich (Germany) in Nov.2009 and a solo show in NSW Parliament in 2010. He was a finalist in The New South Wales Parliament Aboriginal Art Prize in 2011 & 2012.



Albert Digby Moran has had an incredible life to date. Digby’s father Edward was Dungutti and his mother Edna was Bundjalung.   He was born in Ballina NSW and grew up on a mission on Cabbage Tree Island in the Richmond River. It was there that he listened to stories from his grandfather, mother, uncles and elders.  He would go fishing after school and catch prawns by dragging a hessian bag  through the water with his friends.  He’d row a dingy down the river to get groceries for his mother or pick up his brother from the mainland to take him back to the island after a day’s work.  Digby enjoyed living with the close community on Cabbage Tree and had an affinity with nature.


At sixteen Digby left Cabbage Tree Island to work in the local cane fields, he cut cane by hand.  After a few years Digby joined the Jimmy Sharman Boxing Troupe as did his father before him.  This enabled him to travel extensively, where he saw a great deal of this vast country. In 1991 he undertook an art course at TAFE to keep himself occupied and discovered that he had a talent for painting.  He found that painting was a way he could express himself.  Digby says “Painting gives me great pleasure and brings me peace.  It is a way for me to tell the stories that were told to me by my grandparents and elders when I was growing up.”


Digby is now a renowned artist and  enjoys enormous respect throughout the  region from artists and the wider community.  He is employed at Namatjira Haven, a drug and alcohol rehabilitation centre as a support worker and is in great demand as a guest speaker at the many schools in the Northern Rivers area.


His love for his Bundjalung heritage and country are inspiration for his work. Digby only paints what he knows, he never paints anything outside his Bundjalung boundaries, “ you’ll never catch me painting things like barramundi or crocodiles,”  he said.  Water, especially the ocean is a common theme , “Water is a big part of all Bundjalung Dreaming,” Digby explains “I have always been a saltwater man.”