Synthetic Polymer Paint on Belgian Linen
120 x 117 cm
Direct from the artist, Darwin, NT
Coo-ee Art, Sydney, NSWStory
SKIN is a celebration of his family's totem - The Saltwater Crocodile - and his personal view of the world. Whilst in his senior years at school, Bonson started to dabble with paint, creating textured black and white paintings in acrylics in what he describes as a 3D style. He applies his paint thickly creating works that are contemporary in appearance yet embody age old Indigenous traditions and meanings.
The idea is to recreate the scales of a saltwater crocodile, which my grandfather told me is my totem. The armoured skin of the reptile is shown by the built-up serrations of the paint and other materials applied by hand or directly from the tube. But it also works on different levels – it can be read as a close-up of a reptile’s skin and as a landscape both seen from a distance and as close-up details of rock’s and sand - Joshua Bonson
In this current body of work, colour too plays an integral role. Thick underlying layers of blues and greens represent the sea; shades of black, yellow, orange and red create the details of rocks and sand reflecting country. Through his art, Bonson is trying to rediscover his lost family culture and establish his place within it.
My great grandmother was from Badu in the Torres Strait Islands and her eldest son was my grandfather, Donald Bonson Senior. He is the inspiration for my work. He told me everything is connected - the land, the water and us. Like the crocodile, we are saltwater people with an ancient lineage - Joshua Bonson
Joshua also traces his ancestry through his great-great grandmother Dolly Bonson, a Jawoyn woman from Katherine who was also known as Bett-Bett the servant girl featured in We of the Never-Never and The Little Black Princess books by Jeannie Gunn.