27 May 2024

Coen artist shortlisted for prestigious national award

| Chisa Hasegawa
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Naomi Hobson

Coen artist Naomi Hobson has been selected as a finalist for the 2024 Hadley’s Art Prize. Photo: Supplied.

A Coen artist is “jumping with excitement” after being selected as a finalist for one of Australia’s most prestigious art awards.

Naomi Hobson was chosen out of over 8,000 artists who submitted to the 2024 Hadley’s Art Prize, and is the only Cape York artist to have ever been shortlisted.

“It’s one of those things that you never think you’ll get into, because it’s so prestigious,” the artist said.

“This is like the golden ticket for artists in this country – it’s very well recognised.”

The Hadley’s Art Prize is open to all artists in the country over 18 years old, and participants must submit their best portrayal of the Australian landscape.

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“It’s not just for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander [artists], it’s a mainstream award,” Ms Hobson explained.

“There’s all these big, senior artists that I’ve always looked up to that have been selected into this award, and then being selected yourself as an Indigenous person from remote Cape York and being a woman of colour, it’s one of those unbelievable moments.

“As an artist, these are the moments that set your profile, and so many opportunities come out of them.”

Born and raised in Coen, Ms Hobson’s submission Life on the River is based on her experiences on the land.

With the Coen River running across her backyard and the stories from Elders as inspiration, the artist’s work presented a unique connectedness to Country.

“I think it’s about time that people know the diverse landscape here in Cape York; it’s very unique and there’s so much to offer,” she said.

“Being shortlisted in the Hadley’s Art Prize creates conversations that get people thinking positively about nature, and the deep connections that Indigenous people have with Country.

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“The Coen community has a rich river culture that I don’t think is acknowledged out there; we have always helped maintain a healthy river ecosystem by having a presence here and looking after Country, [and] my art celebrates that way of life.

“There’s a lot of pride in the way I present my artwork because, I’m passionate about my Country, I love who I am and I love where I come from.”

Ms Hobson was also shortlisted last year and has garnered both national and international attention for her work.

Over the coming months, she will showcase herself as an artist in London, North Africa and Miami.

“Just being selected as a finalist, there’s so many opportunities and we’re already winners,” she said.

“It’s everything an artist could dream of; I’m just proud to be here and support my community moving forward, so the rest of the country can see what a vibrant community we have up here in the bush.”

The winner of the Hadley’s Art Prize will be announced in August, with the selected artist receiving $100,000.

Naomi Hobson on the Coen River

Ms Hobson says she hopes that through her art, people will come to love and appreciate Coen as much as she does. Photo: Supplied.

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