Naomi Grant is a Perth-based artist with connections to Blacktown. In 2017, her artwork Dad’s Country was awarded the Aboriginal Artist Prize. The artwork was also acquired into the Blacktown City Art Collection.
The judges commended the artist’s contemporary style of blending Indigenous painting techniques with Western agricultural landscape depictions to create a fresh take on abstract painting.
Why did you enter the 2017 Blacktown City Art Prize?
I enter a lot of competitions that are consistently promoting high quality art. I have entered the Blacktown City Art Prize 3 times now – substantial prize money is a big draw.
Can you explain your “contemporary style” and how you negotiate different painting techniques and landscape depictions in your works like Dad’s Country?
Over the years I have explored many styles and techniques in painting. In the last 18 years, I have been working with collage techniques of layering tissue paper over and under the painted surface. Most of the papers are transparent and I began to build up a pattern of colours and designs that are transparent through the layers. This gives the work lots of depth.
In Dad’s Country I poured the background paint – a technique of laying the canvas flat and pouring paints directly onto the canvas. After that dried I layered areas with tissue paper to build texture and depth and greater layers of design. This piece is also an aerial perspective, which lends its self to being abstract in nature. It is the general layout of the town of Cowra, the birthplace of my father.
What is your connection to Blacktown?
I actually grew up in Blacktown from the ages of 1 to 10. I went to Blacktown South Primary School. I have many memories of my early life here in Blacktown. I actually had my first art lesson at the Civic Centre in Blacktown, right next door to The Leo Kelly Blacktown Arts Centre. My art teacher was a lovely man called Mr Kenny.
My father is Wiradjuri, the largest Indigenous tribe in NSW. So my early years were spent in Sydney and NSW country regions. I was exceptionally thrilled to win the Aboriginal Artist Prize with such strong connections to these regions.
Do you have any advice for artists who are thinking of entering the 2018 Blacktown City Art Prize, especially artists who are based inter-state?
- Keep pursuing what you love and be true to yourself as an artist. I don’t think there is any magic formula. Every year is different and every competition will have different judges. One time your work will be loved, and the next it will be rejected. This can get very demoralising for artists over time, so you can’t take it too personally.
- Be organised and keep a spread-sheet of competition dates, deadlines and delivery dates. This is very helpful if you are entering regularly.
- Write up a good CV, a good description of your work and statement of yourself as an artist that you can regularly use.
- Take good high-resolution images of your work.
- Find a good freight company. The best to date I have used are Interparcel.com where you book online yourself and choose the carrier.
- Don’t leave it till the last minute if you are shipping from interstate as lots of things can go wrong.
- Plan early.