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A Colourful Collaboration Between A Cape York Artist + MECCA

Art

Naomi Hobson is a Southern Kaantju/Umpila woman who lives in Coen, a small town in the centre of the Cape York Peninsula. Her practice spans painting, ceramics and photography, and she engages with culture, Country, and social issues experienced by Indigenous communities through each medium.

As part of a new collaboration with makeup masterminds MECCA, one of Naomi’s vivid abstract paintings will be realised as the brand’s limited-edition holiday gift packaging and in 100 store windows across Australian and New Zealand. Her bold, colourful design expresses a deep and enthusiastic connection to Country – filled with rivers, grasslands and characters. It is SO beautiful!

8th November, 2021

Naomi Hobson is a Southern Kaantju/Umpila woman who lives in Coen, a small town in the centre of the Cape York Peninsula. Photography – courtesy of MECCA brands.

Her practice spans painting, ceramics and photography, and she engages with culture, Country, and social issues experienced by Indigenous communities through each medium. Photography – courtesy of MECCA brands.

This artwork ‘The Royal Harvest’ by Naomi was transformed into MECCA’s holiday packaging for 2021.

MECCA’s M-Power program partners with the NGV to support Australian women artists. The beauty brand commissions an artist (such as Louise Zhang, Atong Atem or Naomi!) to create an artwork, which is then applied to MECCA’s holiday gift packaging. The original piece is then donated to the NGV’s permanent collection! Photography – courtesy of MECCA brands.

Naomi’s original artwork will hang in the NGV Australia (Federation Square) from late 2021. Photography – courtesy of MECCA brands.

MECCA has partnered with the National Gallery of Victoria for the last six years, which has resulted in collaborations with artists from around Australia such as Louise Zhang, Tammy Kanat and Atong Atem.

It’s all part of their M-Power program, which supports the elevation of women in the arts by raising awareness for their practices. Each year, the philanthropic endeavour commissions a woman artist to create an artwork, which is then applied to MECCA’s limited-edition holiday packaging (and their window  displays!) and donated to the NGV.

We learnt more about their incredible 2021 collaborator, Naomi Hobson, below!

Can you tell me a little about your creative journey so far, and how you came to be involved in art making?

My creative journey started when I was four, my earliest memories are of being with my father collecting flowers and making things. He was very creative and loved drawing, he was an excellent sketcher. Growing up we never had material things like toys, books, and bikes. To occupy ourselves, my brother and I explored our country.

I remember my father would make things for us from nature, he would carve wood that we would collect for firewood and carve them into little cars for my brother and little people for me that I would turn into wood dolls with leaves and grass, feathers and flowers that I would collect from places we visited on country.

My grandmother would give me her Christmas biscuit tins that I used as a memory box to put little things in that I found during my time out on country. We would find and make all kinds of things from nature; I felt totally content.

My father passed away when I was young. I don’t remember much about this other than feeling independent and creative. I continued to create from nature until today. I can still feel his energy through my Art.

Are there any recurring themes present in your work?

I spend most of my time outdoors listening, looking, and just enjoying being present in my environment and my culture. There is just so much to be inspired by and be grateful for that this gives. Every day is a different light, another hue. As the seasons change, the landscape evolves; it blooms and burns and sprouts and falls – it’s never still. And I am always thinking about those who came before me and looked after this environment for me to enjoy today and through my art I feel I am continuing that tradition to care for my country so that the next generation can be inspired and enjoy it.

I have always believed in my country! It has provided for me and my family, so I feel it’s only right to give back. My colours are of strength, each colour is a feeling and a moving event – what this place feels like – it’s very bright here and I’m feeling it. It feels powerful.

Where do you live and work from?

I live in small tin shack on the Coen River with my husband. It is situated on the Coen River. It was an old church I use to attend service here with my grandparents. It doesn’t look like a church but its full of blessings. I love it here! You can smell the forest that line the river behind it – it is so refreshing. The healthy strong trees bring birds so I get free music in the morning and afternoons it’s enlightening to hear these sounds and just to listen to when I am creating.

My studio is my back veranda (outside), so I am in nature all the time working. My work is symbolic to me they tell my story of identity, who I am and where I come from, my landscape my environment, people, my community, our culture, and traditions. A message from life. My stories.

What has been rewarding/exciting about this collaboration with MECCA?

The collaboration with MECCA has been empowering especially as a woman of colour. Visual artists to me, don’t seem to get the recognition they deserve, especially female artist, the arts is such a competitive space and female artists for so long have been at the back. I love that MECCA celebrates ALL WOMEN everywhere!

The exciting thing about this collaboration is that it is an empowering space for WOMEN and sends the message and words of encouragement, it helps [us] to keep going!

Who are the artists whose work you admire the most?

For me and my journey, Emily Kame Kngwarreye and Sally Gabori planted a seed. They have given me perspective and inspired me to be comfortable with my Aboriginality to just be yourself and paint! Paint from the heart. I learnt then, that when you paint from the heart your vision becomes clear and growth happens.

What does art making mean to you – why is it important, and what do you hope to achieve/communicate?

My travels are reflected in my art. I love contrast, adventurous colours, and unusual colours: everything that makes a painting represent individuality. My style is consistent and free, my colours are bold!

Naomi Hobson’s original artwork will be on display at NGV Australia (Federation Square) from late 2021. See more about Naomi here.

MECCA Holiday 2021 is available in Australia and New Zealand stores and online now. See more here.

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The Design Files acknowledge the Traditional Custodians of the lands on which we work, the Wurundjeri people of the Kulin Nation. We pay our respects to Elders past and present.

First Nations artists, designers, makers, and creative business owners are encouraged to submit their projects for coverage on The Design Files. Please email bea@thedesignfiles.net