Naomi Hobson

Growing up in Coen in North Queensland’s remote Cape York Peninsula, I felt like I had it all. In a material sense I had nothing, but I had a vast country passed down to me through more than a thousand generations that gave me the power to imagine anything. It also gave me the freedom to create things, to make toys from sticks and leaves and make string from grass and vines.

I would roam around with my grandparents at our favourite fishing holes or visiting places to keep them warm with our spirit. On these trips, I would find the interesting and obscure patterns and shapes in nature. From the tiny grains of sand on the riverbanks left from the previous wet season; the ground marks left from grass, made top-heavy by the rain-soaked seeds as they dab and brush from side to side; to the puzzling beauty of the fresh, glossy bark of the ghost gums.

I cherish the knowledge I have of my country, and how my ancient people connected country with stories. In my paintings, I re-create what I have imagined and lived. Having spent my life in the bush and looking at it, I find myself looking into the bush and visualising colour and space.

I don’t approach painting with deep complex thoughts or over-think a topic. I don’t try to be magically clever or anything. I will paint when something clear pops up in my mind: I just have to get it down, I have to re-create it. I won’t stop until I’m finished, which means I can’t plan my painting like a nine-to-five job or like a diary. But I can be woken in the middle of the night with a colour or when I’m on a long road trip, or I can be sitting at a place in my country and that place will come to me as a colour. I connect colours with places and stories. So I am comfortable in representing my work with colours – I was brought up with the widest hue – it’s very bright where I live in Cape York.

In my recent works I have been exploring the spatial vastness and openness of my country and its physical objects. I am intrigued by the connectedness of my mountain ranges with all the features and systems below. There are the geographic and scientific ecosystem-type connections, but on top of that, the country is connected and mapped by culture, and a story my ancient people handed down that further explains and describes my country. My paintings take me and you on a journey of my country and of my stories and my life. I’m always waiting to imagine my next interpretation. This is what keeps me motivated to create.
Naomi Hobson: Kanichi – On Top of People
Alcaston Gallery, Melbourne
20 September – 15 October

Naomi Hobson is represented by Alcaston Gallery, Melbourne

Courtesy the artist and Alcaston Gallery, Melbourne

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