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Award-winning artist and illustrator Dion Beasley was born in 1991. He is an Alywarr man who lives in Tennant Creek in the Northern Territory. His father’s country is Owairtilla, also known as Canteen Creek, and his mother’s country is Alpurrurulam, also known as Lake Nash.
Dion has muscular dystrophy and is deaf. He developed an interest in drawing at a young age which has helped him to communicate. Dion predominately draws dogs and elements of community life.
Dion is known to regularly visit his grandfather at Mulga Camp on the edge of Tennant Creek where he fed the camp dogs. They inspired his prolific drawings of them in a variety of moods and situations.
He lives in Tennant Creek and is well known across the Territory as the artist behind the much-loved T-shirt brand, Cheeky Dogs. Dion’s formal art career started in 2006 when the first Cheeky Dogs T- shirt line was launched. Since then, his reputation as an accomplished visual artist has grown from strength to strength. Dion’s talents are particularly remarkable given he has muscular dystrophy and is profoundly deaf.
Dion uses his great passion for drawing (mostly country and camp dogs) as a means of communicating with others. In collaboration with Darwin-based writer Johanna Bell, Dion has since illustrated three children’s books published by Allen and Unwin. ‘Too Many Cheeky Dogs’ (2013) has sold close to 10,000 copies since its launch. ‘Go Home Cheeky Animals!’ won The Children’s Book Council of Australia’s Book of the Year Award in 2017 (Early Childhood category) and the Territory Read Awards in 2018 (Children’s or Young Adult category). Dion and Johanna’s latest memoir Cheeky Dogs: To Lake Nash and Back was published in June 2019. While ‘Too Many Cheeky Dogs’ was originally written for young children in remote areas, the book (and the two that followed) proved to have much broader appeal, as well as becoming an invaluable teaching resource in a variety of learning areas.
Dion's first exhibition was at the Darwin Entertainment Centre in 2018, entitled A Dog’s Life. It then travelled through the eastern states of Australia.
With the assistance of carer Joie Boulter, he also creates etchings, photography and modelling, and has his own clothing label “Cheeky Dog” which launched in 2006.
Go Home Cheeky Animals! won The Book of the Year in the Early Childhood category in 2017.
Australia Council for the Arts inaugural National Arts and Disability Award in 2019.