Tori-Jay Mordey is a 24-year-old local Indigenous artist who began drawing when she was very young. She was raised in the Torres Straits on Thursday Island but spent a majority of her childhood in Hervey Bay. Her knowledge and experience from her diverse upbringing is reflected in her art. Tori’s understanding of self-identity, physical appearance, and racial identity played a significant role during her studies at Queensland College of Art at Griffith University.
Art has always been Tori’s greatest passion – after expressing creativity early in her years, art has played an essential role in her life ever since. She is multi-skilled artist who uses a wide range of supplies and tools. One of her devices is a Wacom drawing tablet which assists in digital drawings. She mainly works with paints and pencils but has also experimented in printmaking, specialising in copper etchings. Her other hobbies include film and photography.
As a growing artist, she’s keen to experiment with different mediums. Each work could take from an hour through to a month to complete. She aims to space out her time and take step back and breathe, rather than engulfing herself in the work that she thoroughly enjoys.
It was in her final year of high school when both Tori-Jay and her Aunty Jillian Boyd entered the national Black&Write competition in 2012 for their story “Bakir and Bi”. It was the first official children’s book which she illustrated. They won the competition which led to Tori-Jay being employed by Magabala Books, an indigenous book publisher from Western Australia. Since then, her career has skyrocketed. Without these opportunities and generous help from the Black&Write team and Magabala Books, she would not be where she is today.
The painting of the 2014 G20 Brisbane sign (top of page) was another significant artwork which remains as a popular tourist monument in South Bank, Brisbane. While studying a Bachelor of Contemporary Australian Indigenous Arts she became head designer and, alongside her fellow students, contributed to painting the ‘S’ for the BRISBANE sign.
In 2017, Tori-Jay designed concept art for K’GARI, an SBS interactive web documentary which can be access via their website: http://www.sbs.com.au/kgari/ which collaborated with renowned Butchulla artist Fiona Foley. It became a finalist in the UNNA Media awards and two prestigious web design awards, the Awwwards and the FWA. In addition, they showcased the documentary at the International Documentary Film Festival Amsterdam (IDFA).
More recently, Tori-Jay was honoured to become the illustrator for Cathy Freeman’s portrait in “Shout Out to the Girls” which was published last year by Penguin Random House Australia. This book features easy-to-read biographies of influential women from Australia’s past and present, as well as including portrait illustrations from an all-female artist’s line-up.
Tori-Jay says her greatest aspiration is to become a more renowned illustrator.
“In the next five years, I hope to have my own cool artsy studio apartment, to expand to reach overseas, and to be able to work on more books alongside different publishers,” Tory-Jay said.
She hopes to inspire others with her storytelling as an Indigenous illustrator and to become an example of where dedication and practice can take you.