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Last Updated: Monday, 28 August 2006, 10:00 GMT 11:00 UK
Domic's dreamtime designs
By Julian Shea
BBC Sport

Sid Domic at work
Domic says art is a perfect escape from playing rugby
For many professional sportsmen, the nearest they come to the world of art is going for a new tattoo.

But Hull rugby league player Sid Domic takes his art a bit more seriously than that.

And until 2 September, the results can be seen in a display of his Aboriginal paintings called "Searching for my Kalkadoon" at the Rebecca Hossack Gallery in London.

Art was not of significance to the former Australian schoolboy international until the age of 21, when he discovered his family roots were in the Kalkadoon aboriginal nation.

Talking to his grandmother to find out more, Domic developed an interest in painting as a way of telling traditional stories.

But it was after rugby brought him to England that Domic's artistic career took off - in the unlikely surroundings of a Warrington schoolroom.

"I took up painting over here when I was going into schools and telling kids traditional Aboriginal dreamtime stories," he told BBC Sport.

"A local school was doing a project on aboriginal art, so the first time I went in I just talked, and the second time I took a painting - and there was a really good response.

"I thought it would be easier to explain about my people if I did paintings to show them the symbols. They loved the designs and the stories, so it really helped tell the story."

There are 16 canvases in the exhibition, average size about two feet by three feet, and priced around 700 each.

Sid has an incredible sense of colour and his designs are remarkable

Gallery owner Rebecca Hossack

As Domic has become more experienced as a painter, inspiration seems to come to him more easily.

"Two years ago it would have taken me about four weeks to do one of these, but now it only takes about four days, depending how much training we have.

"If I'm doing a picture inspired by a story my grandmother told me, I have it all sorted out in my mind so all I have to do is set out the symbols on the canvas in the way I want them."

Former club Warrington already have some of Domic's artwork hanging on their walls, and after initially not knowing how to react to it, some of his Hull team-mates have expressed an interest in buying his paintings.

So far, there are no plans to exhibit in Hull, but Domic says he would be happy for that to happen.

"I love showing my work anywhere, so I'd love to show it in Hull, but at the moment there are no plans to because I've been so caught up in playing this season," he said.

The contrast between the team environment of sport and solitary world of art is obvious, but Domic says they are not entirely separate.

"I used to find it difficult to turn off from rugby, and sometimes struggled to sleep before a game," he said.

"But painting really relaxes me and makes me feel chilled out. It's helped my game."

How much this explains Hull's recent form is unclear, but at the moment they find themselves second in Super League.

And Domic, who will retire at the end of the 2007 season, is keen to go out at the top of his game.

"I don't want to be one of those players who people see and say 'he should have gone a couple of years ago', so to reach a couple of Grand Finals before I quit would be great," he said.

After rugby, Domic says his plan is to work in education, with art possibly playing a role in that work.

Sid Domic in action for Hull
Domic as fans are more used to seeing him, playing for Hull

But gallery owner Rebecca Hossack says a full-time career as an artist beckons for Domic.

"Sid has an incredible sense of colour and his designs are remarkable," she told BBC Sport.

"I've just come from the Aboriginal Art fair in Darwin, so I've seen thousands of paintings, and it would be very easy to be jaded.

"But there's no-one else like him, and I really think he has a big career in front of him as a painter."

Hossack was alerted to Domic's work by a client in Hull sending her a cutting from a local newspaper.

She says the fact the article was printed at all shows just how widespread interest is in Aboriginal painting.

"It's phenomenal - globally, the market for it is worth billions of dollars. It's on the A-level art syllabus for British schoolchildren now, so the interest is massive."

Considering how it was the response of schoolchildren that first inspired Domic to paint seriously, he can take great satisfaction from that news.

"One of the reasons I took it up was to try and learn more about my own people - my pictures are my interpretation of what I've learnt," he said.

"There's not too much known here about the Kalkadoon, so I really get a buzz from people learning about my culture. I'm proud to do it."

Sid Domic's "Searching for my Kalkadoon" is on until 2 September at the Rebecca Hossack Gallery, 35 Windmill Street, London W1T 2JS. Tel: (020) 7436 4899


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