Katie Bugden starring on court and canvas

Katie Bugden’s elite work-rate, ambition and talent has driven her forward in a pair of incredible passions.

Melbourne Tigers’ rising star Katie Bugden has pursued two creative outlets in her life as she shines on the basketball court and is just as incredibly talented with her paintings, which highlight and celebrate her Indigenous heritage, family and culture.

Bugden is a member of both the Wiradjuri and Kamilaroi people as she grew up on Bundajalung land just outside Lismore, NSW.

She made the move to Victoria after a superb junior career in New South Wales, with the Melbourne Tigers beckoning as Bugden began the next phase of her basketball journey interstate with an Australian icon to show her the way.

“I’m from the country so basketball opportunities are scant, before I left home I would train with the men’s team because there wasn’t a women’s league, so moving to Melbourne seemed like an obvious choice if I wanted to play basketball,” Bugden said.

“And playing under Kristi Harrower was sort of a dream come true for me; she has so much knowledge and appreciation for the sport, and still kicks our ass when she joins the scrimmages at training!”


But even with the time pressures of playing both junior and senior basketball for Melbourne Tigers – starring in the Big V Youth Championship Women where she was named in the 2019 VYC Women All Star 5 and featuring in the inaugural NBL1 (now NBL1 South) season.

“2019 was the first year that I have felt like a senior player at any club here in Melbourne, it was really nice to have my opinion valued whether it was playing with the YL girls or with the NBL1 girls,” Bugden said. “But what stands out was being given defensive assignments on WNBL players or having a play drawn up just for me, by Kristi Harrower no less, was awesome.”

While her creativity and talent on the court was shining through an elite 2019 in Melbourne, she also cultivated this creativity into her painting to capture the natural beauty of her home and the people she treasures most.

“I have always loved telling stories and I found that I was able to tell the story of myself and my family through my art,” Bugden said. “My family is my biggest inspiration for my art, I think that it has made me realise that that connection is what is most important to me.

“As for the colours I use, they are definitely inspired by my upbringing on a farm.

“The rich colours of the brown and red soil, as well as blue oceans and rivers… they will always inspire my work.”

NAIDOC Week is a celebration of all these important elements for Katie – her family, her history and her culture. It is important to celebrate these aspects of Australia’s diverse Indigenous communities as otherwise it won’t be around for future generations.

“It’s a time where people, communities, businesses, and organizations come together and collectively celebrate and show their ongoing respect for my culture which is so important,” Bugden said. “This year’s theme ‘Always was, always will be’ is something that has had such an impact on myself and my art.

“I hope people can understand why Indigenous people feel so strongly about our culture as we fight tooth and nail to keep it alive.”



Bulabul: (Two going together) (Wiradjuri) – Katie Bugden

This painting represents relationships, two people acting as one. Available in print soon via Katie Bugden Art.

 With a rich palette of Australia’s landscape to bring to life through her paintings, Bugden finds herself equally inspired by everyone around her as she soaks it up and gets her ideas down as quickly as possible.

“I listen to the stories that people tell me of their family or their life and picture that as you would a story from a book,” Bugden said. “I’m usually kept up at night with designs that are stuck in my head, so I often find myself in the study at 2am quickly drawing a design so I can sleep.

“Mostly I like my paintings to have an organic flow.”

Ngurangbang: Country (Wiradjuri) – Katie Bugden

This painting represents the colours of our country as we walk along it. Available in print soon via Katie Bugden Art.

Most people in life are lucky to find one higher calling, one passion to ignite their senses and keep their spirits high. But Bugden has found herself fortunate enough to be inspired by both  her sporting and artistic endeavours… and wouldn’t have it any other way.

It’s all part of staying active, energised and excited. A life sitting still isn’t the path for her.

“I’ve never been the sort of person to be able to sit still and only do one thing at a time,” Bugden said. “Unless I’m playing sport 4-5 days a week and have at least two hobbies on the side, life isn’t crazy enough for me.”

With basketball on hold throughout 2020, Bugden was able to push herself even further with her artistic endeavours… but she’s still raring to get back on court quickly in the new year.

If you would like to get in contact with Katie Bugden about her artwork or to purchase one of her prints, please visit her Instagram page or her Etsy store.

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