Creative Ambassador Gavin Wanganeen
When you hear the name Gavin Wanganeen, you immediately think – Port Power legend. However, in addition to his many on-field accolades and legendary AFL status, Gavin is also father to 5 gorgeous children, Mia, Tex, Kitty, Lulu and Posey, husband to the very sweet Pippa and now in his second life, carving out a beautiful career as an acclaimed contemporary visual artist. His pieces are not only aesthetically appealing, but they take you to a place beyond the here and now, as Gavin explores links to his Aboriginal heritage and the Kokatha people through his art.
He was recently announced as an Ambassador for The Fringe and we were so thrilled to have the opportunity to sit down and chat all things Arts, Adelaide and The Fringe with Gavin and his lovely wife Pippa.
What is your favourite Fringe memory?
When I first came back to Adelaide after being away in South Africa and then Melbourne for a few years, I co-hosted an online show that covered the Adelaide Fringe; Fringe TV. It was so fun to be back in Adelaide, connecting with other artists and performers (many of whom I studied with at Uni) and covering all the shows. I did a story on a beautiful show that was held at the Adelaide Gaol, and I included a little piece with my cute stepchildren; Mia and Tex. They were so young then, and I remember how magical it was seeing their eyes open up to the wonder of the Arts scene. Now, I get to continue the wonder with my three little girls, who are also great supporters of the Arts and the Adelaide Fringe.
What are you looking forward to seeing this year?
All of it, but particularly Yabarra, Gathering Of Light! It is just the most wonderful time to be in Adelaide, and to enjoy the best of South Australia. The local and International performers bring an incredible vibe to the city, and I love going to as many shows as I can.
You must be very excited that Gavin has been recognised as an Arts Ambassador for the Fringe this year, how does his art influence the family?
Gavin’s transition from AFL player to Artist is such a wonderful story, and we are all so proud of him. It’s been fantastic to see him supported and embraced by the Arts community, particularly with his appointment as an Ambassador of the Adelaide Fringe (my favourite festival IN THE WORLD)!
Gavin’s Art, has given our family more connection to his Aboriginal culture, and has opened up conversations about his incredible family history. His art allows us to honour and celebrate his Aboriginal heritage.
Do you have a creative outlet that you can share with us?
I have always been a lover of fashion, travel and the arts! They bring me great joy, and through them I am constantly inspired to create. I love styling interiors, children’s fashion, and pulling looks together for myself too. I love that platforms such as Instagram give us an opportunity to engage with each of these creative outlets, everyday.
Have the kids inherited Gavin’s artistic genes?
Haha I think they have inherited his sporting AND artistic genes! But, time will tell!
How did you get involved with the Adelaide Fringe and what about your role are you most excited about?
Now that I am being recognised as a Contemporary Indigenous Artist, it has been such an honour to be embraced by the wider Arts community, including the Adelaide Fringe Festival. I’m just so thrilled to be able to represent visual artists, but most importantly the Indigenous community, through my role as Ambassador.
Adelaide really comes alive during the Fringe festival and the buzz it creates is indescribable. What is your favourite Fringe memory?
When our youngest daughter Posey was only 7 days old, Pippa and I decided to take all 5 children into The Garden, for dinner and to see some shows together. It was wonderful to enjoy being together as a family, in such a vibrant and exciting space. I can’t remember what shows we saw (we were pretty sleep deprived) but I will never forget how happy we all were to be at the Adelaide Fringe with our newest tiny family member!
Top show to see with kids?
How does the Fringe support Indigenous culture?
The Adelaide Fringe has always showcased incredible Indigenous talent and venues, through their continued support of groups like Yellaka, Djuki Mala, and a number of other Indigenous artists in various artistic fields. Their decision to include me as an ambassador, is so humbling and a further example of their commitment to supporting Indigenous Culture. I cannot wait to see the Opening Ceremony which will be a phenomenal celebration of Indigenous Culture, one you will not want to miss!
When did your passion for art surface?
A few years after my football career ended, my wife Pippa encouraged me to finish a painting I had begun but never finished, many years before. I finished it, and started painting more and haven’t looked back since. I love how it brings me closer to my culture, and I have learned so much about my family history during this time.
What inspires you?
I paint about the stars and the night sky. I imagine I am sitting up in the highest point in the universe, looking down through the stars, to Country. My Great Grandfather lived an incredible and challenging life, and his courage, grace and humility are a huge inspiration to me, and my art.
Do you create art at home with the kids?
Yes! The little girls have thrown their toys, fingers and clothes into my artworks, and it all adds special character and story to the work! They have grown up watching me paint at the kitchen table, and I feel it is a great way for them to learn about their Kokatha heritage.
As Fringe aficionados through and through, their love for the arts scene and The Fringe is evident, so we trust their guidance on what shows not to miss! Gavin and Pippa share with us their top picks from this year’s guide.
You can follow the Wanganeens and their Fringe adventures on: