Art Attack!, Melbourne Home Design + Living, Issue 7


Yearning of the artist as a young man, Faces In The Street by Martin Flanagan, The Age

Extract :

Michael Skilney is an artist and his memories of his early life are like paintings or songs.

I ask him to describe the migrant camp at Bonegilla, east of Wodonga. Hot, he replies, totally flat, not many trees. The sound of crows, an overwhleming sense of isolation.

He is grinning now, nodding, as the pictures form behind his eyes.

When he was six, the family was transferred to the migrant camp at Somers. The best time of his life, he says, the magic years.

He recalls a river with shoals of small fish, farmlands, animals, a wild bird sanctuary. This was when he began drawing.


Portrait of Nicky Winmar, Local Rites by Paul Daffy - Black Duck Publications


The fans wore St Kilda jumpers and scarves. Some wore Nicky Winmar jumpers, others toted swap cards. Michael Skilney said he had 18 plastic figurines of his hero on a shelf at home. “I cornered the market,” he said.

The Glen Huntly artist, a 52 year old with thinning sandy hair and a romantic’s gaze, had led his friends from the south-east suburbs through the misty valleys beyond Melbourne to present Winmar with his portrait of the Saint hoisting his guernsey and pointing to his skin at Victoria Park in 1993.

Skilney likened Winmar’s gesture to the Black Panther salute at the 1968 Olympics. He believed that Winmar emulated Tommie Smith and Johnny Carlos, the sprinters who protested against racism in America by raising black-gloved fists on the medal dias after the 200 metres. “It was a great moment in AFL history,” Skilney said. His friends nodded, wide-eyed waiting for a response. “That was a day to remember.”

Winmar held the artwork in front of him and cocked his head. The yellow sun of the Aboriginal flag shrouded his defiant figure. He looked up shyly. “I’m honoured,” he said. “It’s a great picture.”