Naomi Hobson: Language of the Land

27 May - 10 June 2023
Exhibition Text

'Language of the Land' is painted in concert with the natural landscapes of her Country - from the rainforests to the grasslands, and hinterlands traveling down to the coast and its precious reefs. The works have travelled from Coen, a small and close-knit community of about 360 people in Cape York. This town, where Hobson lives and creates her work, is built on the Country of the Kaantju peoples, her maternal family line. It is just south of the saltwater Country of the Umpila people, Hobson's patrilineal ancestors. Hobson communicates this deeply felt history and future through her painting.

A member of a dynamic new generation of First Nations artists, Hobson works from a position of both humility and pride. This dual sensibility reflects her two guiding stars of Country and community.

My Aboriginality is what grounds me. Through art I get to freely express all of this. I can share my creative freedoms in a contemporary way. My style also reflects my individuality ... I want my work to tell my stories in an innovative way.

Hobson is a figure of affection within the town of Coen, known to residents and to visitors alike as a local leader in the arts, as well as in land care organisations. In July 2022, after a thirty year campaign, Cape York Traditional Owners have reconnected with their land, culture and history as part of four historic determinations which saw nearly 1.5 million hectares of land recognised under native title.

This historic moment in Indigenous land rights has had a profound impact for Hobson and her community of Coen. The paintings featured in 'Language of the Land' bring the messages from nature which her community lives by to new audiences: to share a way of life, and a way of being, that is joyful, sustainable, and focused on preserving the land for future generations of all cultures. 

Hobson has exhibited widely both within Australia and internationally since 2008. She was awarded the Geelong Contemporary Art Prize in 2022 and the Mecca X NGV Collaboration Acquisition Award in 2021. Her work is currently featured in the Wynne Prize 2023 at the Art Gallery of NSW and on display at the National Portrait Gallery as part of Portrait 23. Hobson's photography was exhibited at the Art Gallery of South Australia in 2021 and in Photo Australia's International Festival of Photography in 2022.

Hobson's work has been acquired by institutions including the Art Gallery of NSW, Museum of Contemporary Art, National Gallery of Australia, National Gallery of Victoria, Art Gallery of South Australia, Queensland Art Gallery of Modern Art, Museum and Art Gallery of the Northern Territory, Shepparton Art Museum, Bendigo Art Gallery and Cairns Art Gallery, and was recently the subject of a major tapestry commission produced with the Australian Tapestry Workshop for the Australian Embassy in Jakarta, Indonesia.

Installation Views