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Article: A yarn with Ambrose

A yarn with Ambrose

A yarn with Ambrose

About the artist

I was born in Darwin with bloodlines and kinship tied to Arrernte and Western Bundjalung Country. I’ve been residing in Meanjin/Brisbane since late 1999 and have since fallen in love with the bayside and Quandamooka country and the Darwin-like community feel around the suburbs here. I have a passion for all things sport which has now taken the form of falling head over heels for endurance sport and specifically, triathlon. I’d love the opportunity to model my active lifestyle for my 2 kids, my future children and all other young mob out there struggling with connection and lack of community which I feel endurance sport has provided so much of for me in the recent years. 

We did not have books, giant relics and buildings to teach our culture and lore, so I feel it is my duty to teach and expose people to our culture through my artwork and story telling.

My Nanna, Barbara-Anne Chisholm, was born in Eastern Arrernte country and was stolen and raised north of Darwin on Melville Island before moving to Brisbane and then back to Darwin after her schooling had finished. My Grandfather, Ambrose Morgan was of Bundjalung and African- American decent and grew up around Redfern, NSW.

We were fortunate enough that Nanna found her home country from where she was taken from, to which we are now welcomed back to at any opportunity.

I have always been a day dreamer and drawer, finding myself stuck doodling and drawing from a very young age. My drive to learn more about the cultural significance of our art really began in 2010 when I created a large piece titled ‘Grey’. This piece won the Indigenous Heart Foundation Student Award and toured QLD galleries for the remainder of the year. More importantly, it opened up my passion and drive to keep painting and learning about our art and culture. -

Ambrose Killian

Learn more about Ambrose's artwork @our.yarn on instagram


Yarn: An Aboriginal English word that describes an informal conversation or storytelling in a culturally safe environment. 

We sat down for a yarn with Ambrose while he worked and talked about the intersection of sport, art, community and culture...

“Art, the process of concept and creation has impacted my life in all aspects”

Artwork, whether it be a painting hanging on the wall or a sculpture standing in a gallery, can have a profound impact on our lives. It can inspire new ideas and emotions, challenge our beliefs and perceptions, and simply bring beauty into our daily existence. But the influence of art goes beyond just personal enjoyment; it also has the power to shape and enhance our culture as a whole. From ancient cave paintings to contemporary installations, art allows us to understand and connect with the past while also pushing us towards new and innovative ways of expression. It enriches communities, sparks important conversations, and fosters creativity and empathy. In short, artwork has the potential to greatly enhance our lives both individually and collectively. So let's continue to support and appreciate art in all its forms.


“Motivation to start a new painting is very similar to motivation to start training.”

Like any creative endeavor, finding the motivation to start a painting can sometimes be a challenge. However, I have found that developing a consistent practice can help with this. Setting aside dedicated time each day for my art, even if it's just for a few minutes, helps me maintain momentum and inspiration. In addition, surrounding myself with other artists and regularly attending criticizing and exhibit opportunities keeps me motivated to continue pushing myself and creating new work. Overall, establishing and sticking to a routine helps keep the moments of fogginess or lack of motivation at bay and allows me to grow continually as an artist.

“Sport, movement, the community of sport has a huge impact on my artwork.”

One may argue that every sport is a form of art in its own right, requiring precision, technique, and creativity to excel. However, certain sports also have direct influences on artistic pursuits. And even the strategy and tactics of team sports like basketball or football can inspire visual artists and filmmakers to craft compelling narratives in their work. Ultimately, the connections between sports and various art forms are undeniable both strive for excellence in skill and expression, pushing the boundaries of what is physically or creatively possible.

“Sport has taught me discipline, routine and also that progress can be small or large.”

Sports can often teach us much more than just teamwork and physical fitness. We also develop essential life skills like discipline, perseverance, and resilience through the highs and lows of a competitive season. We often hear the motto "never give up" in sports, but it becomes a reality as we push through tough practices and challenging games. This can also translate to other aspects of our lives, helping us approach obstacles with a determination to keep trying instead of giving up. In addition, the excellent sportsmanship we practice on the field or court respect for our opponents, humility in victory and grace in defeat – can extend into our personal relationships and daily interactions. Ultimately, participating in sports can provide valuable lessons for how we approach athletic endeavors and the challenges and successes that life brings our way.

“Keeping yourself busy, engaging the mind, sharing it with others, it’s important for your mental health.”

We often think of our physical health as separate from our mental and emotional well-being, but the truth is that they are interconnected. Keeping oneself busy with activities such as exercise, joining a sports team, or volunteering can not only improve physical health but have a positive impact on mental health as well. In addition, collaborating with others can lead to increased feelings of connectedness and purpose. And let's not forget about the benefits of physically moving our bodies: exercise releases endorphins that naturally boost mood and reduce stress. So next time you find yourself feeling down, try engaging in some physical activity or social interaction - your mind and body will thank you.

“The relationship between my culture and art has allowed me to understand my background much deeper than I thought possible.”

Culture and art are closely intertwined, with each influencing and shaping the other. On a basic level, a culture's art reflects its values and beliefs, providing insight into the society's priorities and perspectives. At the same time, art can also significantly impact cultural attitudes, acting as a catalyst for social change or serving as a form of protest against certain cultural norms. Art also has the power to unify a culture, representing shared experiences and creating a sense of community. Overall, culture and art have an ongoing and dynamic relationship, constantly shaping and molding one another. Both essential components of human existence can enhance and enrich our lives in countless ways.

“Commitment to training, and to art, has taught me many things in the wider aspect of everyday life.”

Training and commitment can teach us many valuable lessons in life. We learn the value of hard work and perseverance as we develop new skills and push ourselves to reach our goals. These experiences also teach us about discipline, time management, and setting priorities. Even when we encounter challenges or setbacks, staying committed allows us to keep moving forward and finding ways to improve. In addition, committing ourselves to a specific goal or purpose can lead to a sense of fulfillment and self - esteem. Training and commitment can ultimately pave the way for personal growth and achievement in our personal and professional lives. 



Interview & photography by Luke O'Shea

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