Skin alludes to my people and my totem, the crocodile; it tells of the salt water people and the saltwater crocodile, the key to my totem. Skin works on different levels: it can be read as a close up of a reptile’s skin, as a landscape both seen from a distance and close-up details of rocks and sand.
The armoured skin of the reptile is shown by the built up serrations of the paint applied by hand or directly from the tube. Layer upon layer of paint is reapplied over many weeks building and creating the textured 3D result. I want the viewer to feel the presence of the reptile, run their hands across its skin, know its strength and also see the country from where it came, where I come from.
Contemporary in appearance; the dot-painting technique is imaginative given more weight and more paint, the thick slab floats on an apparently watery surface. Skin is both a contemporary abstract work and a painting that embodies indigenous traditions and meanings that stretch back over time. Culture is an important part of my life and plays an equally important part in my art. The Bonson family’s culture has been lost over the years, and together through our artwork my sister and I are both trying to regain it to trace it back and find it again. We know the basics and we’re just trying to find our place in it all. Painting is a way for me to share my personal view of the world and my place in it.
My great grandmother was from Badu in the Torres Strait Islands and her eldest son is my grandfather, Donald Bonson, senior. He is the inspiration for my work. He says everything is connected, the land, the water and us. Like the crocodile we are saltwater people with an ancient lineage.