Sonya Edney

Sonya Edney paints the Gascoyne region of WA, her art shows the dry country and the way the rains transform the land with wildflowers


The Seasons 4 by Sonya Edney

Sonya Edney  |  The Seasons 4

Jap 015983  |  acrylic on canvas  |  71 x 59 cm

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The Seasons 5 by Sonya Edney

Sonya Edney  |  The Seasons 5

Jap 015984  |  acrylic on canvas  |  72 x 59 cm

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Storm over Country by Sonya Edney

Sonya Edney  |  Storm over Country

Jap 015969  |  acrylic on canvas  |  198 x 87 cm

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Gascoyne Country by Sonya Edney

Sonya Edney  |  Gascoyne Country

Jap 016027  |  acrylic on canvas  |  94 x 85 cm

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Hills asnd Wildflowers by Sonya Edney

Sonya Edney  |  Hills asnd Wildflowers

Jap 016276  |  acrylic on canvas  |  136 x 69 cm

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Looking for Bush Fruits by Sonya Edney

Sonya Edney  |  Looking for Bush Fruits

Jap 016463  |  acrylic on canvas  |  116 x 72 cm

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The Seasons 6 by Sonya Edney

Sonya Edney  |  The Seasons 6

Jap 015985  |  acrylic on canvas  |  72 x 59 cm

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Looking for Bush Tomato by Sonya Edney

Sonya Edney  |  Looking for Bush Tomato

Jap 016462  |  acrylic on canvas  |  94 x 83 cm

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The Seasons 8 by Sonya Edney

Sonya Edney  |  The Seasons 8

Jap 015987  |  acrylic on canvas  |  71 x 59 cm

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After Rain – Gascoyne by Sonya Edney

Sonya Edney  |  After Rain – Gascoyne

Jap 016143  |  acrylic on canvas  |  199 x 97 cm

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Spinifex – Gascoyne Country by Sonya Edney

Sonya Edney  |  Spinifex – Gascoyne Country

Jap 016142  |  acrylic on canvas  |  118 x 77 cm

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Land and Sky by Sonya Edney

Sonya Edney  |  Land and Sky

Jap 016472  |  acrylic on canvas  |  137 x 59 cm

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Sonya Edney is a Yinkarrda-Wadjarri artist born in Carnarvon in the Gascoyne region of Western Australia in 1974. Sonya started painting at Burringurrah community, located between the towns of Meekatharra and Carnarvon. Later her uncle, musician and painter Raymond Edney, introduced her to artists acrylic paints. Sonya then went on to do a Visual Arts course at TAFE and was approached to teach her skills in the local schools for NAIDOC week.

Sonya says “Painting inspires me, when I think about home. When I travel and see different country and different scenery. That makes me think about my own country. It takes me back home to where all my inspiration first started out in the bush with my family. Living out in the bush was all about learning where you come from and the stories you was told.”

Sonya has worked in a wide range of mediums from drawing and painting to mosaics, mural painting and silkscreen printing, as well as being involved in the illustrations for Irra Wangga Language Programs. She has travelled widely in Western Australia and has worked at art centres in Geraldton, Carnarvon and Port Hedland.

Her current interests are in painting the country of the upper Gascoyne and out towards Mt Augustus. It’s red sand and spinifex country and in springtime there’s everlastings and other wildflowers and the creeks are running. A lot of stories I’ve got in my head, so it’s good to paint one theme.”

Selected Group Exhibitions

  • 1997 First Prize, Human Rights Day Art Competition, Gascoyne Arts Council WA
  • 1997 Student Art Exhib, Carnarvon TAFE WA
  • 2002 Derby Art Exhibition, Derby WA
  • 2003 Second Prize, Kimberley Craft Show, Derby WA
  • 2007 NAIDOC Art Exhibition, Exmouth WA
  • 2007 Banggumayigu Walgajulgu, Geraldton Museum, Geraldton WA
  • 2008 Cossack Art Exhibition, Roebourne WA
  • 2008 Connect, QPT, Geraldton WA
  • 2009 Ilgarijiri, GRAG, AIATSIS, Canberra, ACT
  • 2009 Hedland Art Awards, Pt Hedland WA
  • 2009 Ilgarijiri, Curtin University, Perth, WA
  • 2009 Ilgarijiri, GUC, Geraldton WA
  • 2009 NAIDOC, ACDC, Geraldton WA
  • 2009 Ilgarijiri, GRAG, Geraldton WA
  • 2009 OPR Good Art, QV1, Perth WA
  • 2009 Harmony Week, QPT, Geraldton WA

Interview with Sonya Edney

2019 was always going to be a big year for Sonya Edney. She’d just moved herself from her home town of Carnavon down to establish a life in the city of Perth. She knew there would be a lot of adjustments, especially living so far from her family and friends. She had no idea that this would also be a year of significant personal loss, including the death of her best friend. Sonya turned to her art to find a way through all the grief. She now finds herself presenting an outstanding body of work in 2109 in her first solo exhibition. Sonya talks here about her art, her life and this new career highlight.

My Country
I was born in Carnarvon and grew up in the Gascoyne. I went out bush in Burringurrah community. I lived out there for most of my childhood. I grew up living out in the bush and swimming in the waterholes.

My Art
I’ve always made art. I was artistic and self taught. I learnt how to paint and explored all sorts of mediums, watercolours, sketching, charcoal, everything and anything. My uncle, Raymond Edney, is an artist and he encouraged me.

My Stories
Some of the paintings tell sad stories about my life, about me travelling around and the places I’ve been. You get some sad times and good times. I’ve shown that through my paintings. Mostly I just paint about my own story rather than the Dreaming stories that belong to the people. I just get an idea in my head and then I paint it.

My Year
I only started painting these exhibition works in late 2018. So I think I’ve got about 30 works produced over a six month period. I had so many losses in my family. I wasn’t sure if I was going to paint, but then I did it and it helped me through the grieving side of things. That’s why some of the paintings, the colours are very strong, because of the way I’m feeling.

It was really hard painting when I was grieving at the same time. I ended up just pushing through, now I’m having an exhibition so that’s really good. I would get halfway through some of these works and somebody else would pass away. It was so hard. I’d stop painting for three weeks and then I just get back into it, painting at home or in the gallery.

The Move To Perth
I live in Perth now. I’ve only been here for about a year. It feels unreal that I’m having an exhibition. I’ve been painting all my life, I’ve been in exhibitions with other artists, entered awards and everything. This is my first solo exhibition.

I was struggling and I didn’t know whether to do it or not, but I just kept thinking of my people, you know. My family and friends, they’ll be thinking, “you should keep doing, keep painting.” I’ve got some cousins that live in Perth. But I do miss home. I do go up there, but only for the sad times lately.

First Exhibition
This is my first solo exhibition and I’m excited, I’ve painted for years. I won an award in Geraldton, I won Artist of the Year for NAIDOC, that was in 2008. This is a very special time for me and I feel very proud of what I’ve been able to create.

How It Feels To Paint
Painting makes me feel good, it relaxes me. I think about a lot of stuff, the things that were on my mind and all things like that. Then after I’ve finished it’s a good feeling. I get a good feeling and that I did it. I go through the painting and I enjoy doing the dots. The paintings are about the lands and the sky. The main traditional story I paint is the Seven Sisters and the Emu in the Sky.

Growing Up In The Bush
I grew up out in the bush and you see a lot of stars, you look at the night sky and tell the stories and everything. So there’s a lot of stories I could paint, but then you’re not allowed to paint those stories. They were very sacred places and things and you get in trouble if you paint it.

My Painting Routine
I just paint in my room. I’m in shared accommodation and I’ve got a big space because it’s one of those old houses. If I’m working on a bigger canvas I’ll come to the gallery. I play soft country music while I work. I get bored if I don’t paint. Sometimes I just wake up and have this idea and I paint it straight onto the canvas.

About This Exhibition
I’m feeling really good about the show. It’s a great feeling. It’s just spinning me out that I’m finally having this solo exhibition. I’m so proud of that.

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