An exhibition display at Bendigo Art Gallery titled Body Politics: Contemporary Works from the Collection showcases two recent acquisitions by Southern Kaantju artist Naomi Hobson.
Hobson is a visual artist who resides on the banks of the Coen River in Far North Queensland. Her residence is an old tin shed that was once her village church. While her colourful abstract compositions draw inspiration from her cultural background, her works further demonstrate freedom and an evolving culture.
In 2016 Hobson won The Alice Prize - Australia's National Prize for Contemporary Art. Since, she has been a finalist in many leading Australian art awards including the National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Award, Sunshine Coast Art Prize and the Geelong Contemporary Art Prize to name a few.
Establishing her career as a painter, Hobson has recently moved into the medium of photography. Her 2018 photographic series, ‘A Warrior without a Weapon’ which is currently on display at Bendigo Art Gallery, took out the inaugural Cairns Indigenous Art Fair 2018 Photography Award.
The images depict the faces of First Nations men from her remote hometown. Inspired by the stories and lived experiences of these men, Hobson’s images reframe preconceived narratives about Indigenous peoples, and she does so through an Indigenous lens.
Visually compelling and inherently political, Hobson’s photographs speak to the nature of identity and representation. She transforms the colonial gaze and further raises important social questions regarding the politicisation of ‘black’ bodies in Australia, specifically that of Indigenous men.
‘I am breaking down the stereotypical representation of Indigenous men and affirming the viewpoint that our men too can be thoughtful, sensitive and caring - a position that is seldom expressed and portrayed in the public domain’.
Hobson’s symbolic use of flowers re-affirms Indigenous connections to the natural environment. Flower adornment is a traditional practice originating in regions of west Cape York, to which men would adorn their beards in preparation for ceremony and rituals.
Naomi Hobson’s work is on display during Body Politics: Contemporary Works from the Collection which opened at the Gallery on Tuesday, 19th February and runs through to 29 July 2019.