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The view from above

How emerging drone artist Tim Moriarty is using cutting edge technology to tell Aboriginal stories...

Tim Moriarty, Moriarty Aerials
Artist Tim Moriarty with his Hexacopter drone

Cammeray local Tim Moriarty is taking his art to new heights. From Tasmania to the Kimberley, the Northern Territory and beyond, the Yanyuwa artist and his trusty Hexacopter drone capture the rawness of nature - the unexpected shapes, patterns and colours of Australia - all from above.

“I take my drone with me wherever I go,” Tim tells northsider. “There’s always something, somewhere to discover. What might seem like a plain landscape expands into something unforeseen. There’s always another layer to an area when you know the stories and the land...”

By combining his drone photography with hand illustrations representing Aboriginal totem stories, Tim’s unique work blends contemporary understanding and technology with traditional Aboriginal principles and storytelling.

“The drone landscapes were a blank canvas, they were without narrative,” he says. “By adding line work, you have to participate with the art. You’ve got to participate for your experience of Country.”

These breathtaking images captured the attention of Taronga Zoo and 120 pieces of Tim’s aerial art can be found on the walls of the rooms at their Wildlife Retreat.

“I love animals and their rich association with the environment,” continues Tim, who is a fully licensed drone pilot certified by the Civilian Aviation Safety Authority. “You can tell so much about them from their tracks – how old they are, how they’re moving – they’re an echo of the animal. By including them in the image, my aim is to deepen our relationship and emotional connection with animals and nature.”

Drone photography with hand illustrations by Cammeray artist Tim Moriarty

Born in Adelaide before moving to Sydney at an early age, Tim’s family is from the remote township of Borroloola in the Northern Territory.

“I’ve always found myself coming back to culture, ever since I was a child,” says Tim, who was given the skin name Bundian, meaning cheeky brown snake, son of the Rainbow Serpent, when he was 15 months old. “My parents always made a point to take me to the bush, to where Dad’s stories are from.”

Tim’s father, John Moriarty AM, is part of The Stolen Generation. Taken from his community at the age of four, he grew up in Adelaide and became the first Indigenous Australian to be selected for a national soccer team. A career of advocacy for Indigenous rights and arts followed, with senior roles in Federal and State Government.

Alongside Tim’s mother, Ros, John founded Balarinji Design in 1983. Based in Crows Nest, the Aboriginal-owned strategy and design agency works to activate the voice of Aboriginal artists and communities in new and inclusive ways.

As well as running Moriarty Aerials, his drone video and photography company that produces aerial work for a range of clients including Sony, AMP, SBS and tourism and real-estate companies, Tim works as Balarinji’s Creative Director.

The agency is the creative force behind many pieces of public Indigenous art including the Qantas-Balarinji flying art series, which sees original paintings deconstructed and reformed to work around an aircraft’s fuselage, and the 2016 Australian Paralympic team uniform.

“It’s very important to incorporate Indigenous stories for future generations.”

Tim was recently awarded Silver at the Sydney Design Awards for Gadigal Faces, a public work created with fellow artist, Nadeena Dixon. The piece can be seen on Cleveland Street Bridge in Redfern. “The unbroken sketch line of woven steel shows that culture is alive and continuing,” Tim says.

Also a classically trained musician, Tim played didgeridoo on U2’s 2006 Vertigo tour of Australia and in 2016, he premiered digital composition True North, a combination of sound, light and language at the Dark Mofo festival of arts held at Tasmania’s renowned Mona Gallery.

“It was based around Bach’s cathedral music and Indigenous percussion,” Tim explains. “Bach used space and physics to create echo and Indigenous people were using the same principles centuries apart.”

Tim’s interest in combining technology with art, music and storytelling began as a child.

“I wanted to make films,” he recalls. “I was always building a spaceship in the garage or saving up to hire a video camera.

“So when I got my first drone I thought, wow this looks interesting! I thought I’d just give it a go. But when I started using it, it felt very intuitive to me. The way the drone flew felt the same as the way I create animation work.”

As well as his work as a designer, drone pilot and digital musician, Tim also shares his knowledge in drone workshops for children in North Sydney and in Indigenous communities.

“All the kids love drones,” he enthuses. “Using them helps unlock skills in maths, physics, engineering...they give a clarity to these subjects as you can see them in action.

“Indigenous kids especially have an extraordinary spatial awareness coupled with an aptitude for technology. They’re intuitive to the tech and mesmerised by the results...whatever technology Indigenous people have, they will straight away start to use it to tell stories. It’s amazing to see.”

With a range of exciting projects across different mediums currently bubbling away in production, it’s clear the sky’s the limit for Tim’s talents.

“Country is in the blood,” he says. “I want to participate in Country and explore it in my own way; for stories and people to live on. There’s a growing appetite for Indigenous learning and it’s very important to incorporate Indigenous stories for future generations.

“I step into both worlds and I’m very proud of that,” he concludes. “I want everyone to experience Indigenous culture.”

When out capturing drone images, Tim always asks for permission from local elders and doesn’t fly over sacred sites. He works locally and all across Australia.

To find out more or to contact Tim head to

Words: Anna Gordon Main photo of Tim: Belinda Spillane


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