In these personal intergenerational portraits, Naomi Hobson shares an affectionate illustration of Kaantju and Umpila boys, men and elders from her group. Adorned in vibrant bouquets identified in their hometown of Coen in much north Queensland, these ‘warriors without a weapon’ share the cultural observe of decorating their beards in preparation of ceremony and to reclaim authorship above how they are represented in the general public domain.
Studio portraits of Indigenous peoples have historically been taken by non-Indigenous photographers however, in this emotive collection, the way of their gaze subtly demonstrates Hobson’s kinship traces involving herself and the topics.
Connected: Indigenous Australian artwork
The photographic collection A Warrior with out a Weapon 2018 aims to crack unfavorable stereotypical representations of Australian Indigenous gentlemen in the general public domain by affirming that that they too can be sensitive and caring.1
Inviting the sitters to her home, it was vital for Hobson to very first engage in dialogue with the adult males about their representation. This important step of session and self-dedication for the males, a person that Hobson has witnessed as absent in the majority of media portrayals and historic records of Aboriginal guys, is the defining element of the series. The trust and treatment that was taken in the course of this procedure is written on the stern, inquisitive and, at occasions, vulnerable faces, quite a few of whom keep eye call with the lens or are turned to gaze in contemplation. Hobson displays:
Every photograph required a dialogue about the thought and the narrative: of getting portrayed to demonstrate a loving facet of indigenous men. Currently being a member of the Coen community, and becoming recognised as an artist at dwelling, every time I establish a system of work, there is constantly an enthusiasm from individuals to be associated. There is a human belief in my messaging and our people today have satisfaction in by themselves and what they stand for.2
Related: QAGOMA’s eyesight for reconciliation
Hobson’s relationships with the topics are subtlety hinted to as well she states
the image positions I have chosen mirror my partnership with the subject matter along kinship strains.3
Each individual on a field of black or white, the gentlemen and their adornments glow. Bouquets area to the Coen location are very carefully positioned in the men’s facial hair signalling prosperity, lifetime and natural beauty. Whilst these floral preparations show a nurturing facet, they are also a crystal clear reference of cultural id. Adorning a beard with flowers is an acknowledgement of a ‘cult hero’, who is recognised amongst the locals of Coen, amplifying the narrative of a warrior with no a weapon.
Political, social and local community engagement is a longstanding element of Hobson’s apply which she sights as a continuation of her loved ones custom.
Katina Davidson is Curator, Indigenous Australian Art, QAGOMA
1 Naomi Hobson artist statement, emailed to Curator, Indigenous Australian Art, 16 August 2018
2/3 E-mail correspondence from the artist to Assistant Curator, Indigenous Australian Artwork, 5 February 2019
Acknowledgment of Country
The Queensland Art Gallery | Gallery of Contemporary Art acknowledges the Classic Entrepreneurs of the land on which the Gallery stands in Brisbane. We pay respect to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Elders previous and present and, in the spirit of reconciliation, admit the immense inventive contribution 1st Australians make to the art and tradition of this region.