Award winning Darwin artist Joshua Bonson, with no formal training, has exploded onto the national art stage with works in the collections of the National Gallery of Australia, Kerry Stokes Collection, Wheelock Properties Collection, the Toga Contemporary Art Collection and Art Bank Collection to name but a few, as do many private collections both nationally and internationally. Bonson is a painter who shares stories of his Indigenous heritage through his work. Bonson began experimenting with paint in his senior school years, 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 armored 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.
Accolades have followed Bonson ever since the age of 18 when he was the youngest ever finalist in the prestigious Telstra National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Award. Then at only 22, he was awarded winner of the Togart Contemporary Art Award. In 2013 Bonson was again a finalist in the 30th Telstra National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Art Award, Finalist in the City of Albany Art Prize and Winner of the Top End NAIDOC artist of the year.
In 2014 Bonson held his first solo exhibition internationally and due to his high achievements within the arts received the Young Achievers Award NT, Artist of the Year. In 2015, Bonson received a scholarship at Bundanon Trust Artists Retreat, NSW, provided by Ervin Vidor, Director of the Toga Group and was also a finalist in the Churchie Art Award QLD. ‘My artwork is a celebration of my family’s totem, The Saltwater Crocodile and my personal view of the world. Even though I live in the Northern Territory, part of my heritage comes from the Torres Strait and creating this work is my way of trying to represent my skins affiliations and my place there.’