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National Museum of Australia

Where our stories come alive

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Old People there ... go inside sacred place


Old People there ... go inside sacred place

Object information


The black lines represent the sacred place where the old people used to go to carry out ceremonies.

Physical description

A painting on canvas with three areas one painted brown, the other cream and the other ochre. The different coloured paint has run into each other creating a pattern where they intersect. There are two lines circling the central shapes and in the lower right hand corner there is the signature, 'Samantha Hobson'. On the reverse of the painting handwritten text reads, 'Old People there ... go inside sacred place'.

Statement of significance

The collection comprises three paintings by Lockhart River artists Rosella Namok and Samantha Hobson. They were offered for donation to the Museum by Fran and Geoff Barker who founded the Lockhart River Arts and Culture Centre in 1996. The paintings are in acrylic paint, two on canvas and one on masonite. All three paintings depict aspects of life at Lockhart River: old people in bygone days going to sacred places for ceremonial practice; current life and customs, derived from the old ways, before the influence of colonial power in this remote part of Cape York began to change life for Aboriginal people and; the trail of luminescence in the wake of the dugong, which is a tell-tale sign to the night hunters in the waters of the inner reef, of its location.

The Lockhart River artists' group was named the 'Art Gang' because of the names given to Community Development Employment Program work gangs, of which it was one. Other work gangs were known as the 'office gang' or the 'road gang'. The Art Gang developed into a strong, innovative art movement known nationally and internationally, which had a great impact on the community and town culturally and financially. As Samantha Hobson, one of the Art Gang stated, 'Our art has put Lockhart on the map.' The activities of the Art Gang brought older women to the Art Centre to transmit stories of 'before time' to the artists. These stories became vital subject matter for the artists who gradually came to understand that ideas and stories could be translated non-figuratively into paint. In time, these older women became painters, altering and enhancing community perceptions about themselves and helping the wider community appreciate that they hold the final links to their language.

Object information

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