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Lockhart River Art, Cape York Peninsula


The artists of Lockhart River - known as the Lockhart River "Art Gang" - are the best known of north Queensland's Aboriginal artists.

Cape York has a number of communities active in producing art works in addition to the Lockhart River "Art Gang", but these are generally not as well known. In 2003 the Queensland Art Gallery held a landmark exhibition "Story Place" which demonstrated the breadth of work being produced on Cape York (the catalogue is available through our online shop). While the Aboriginal artists of Cape York have not been as well organised as in the centre, Top End or the Kimberley, this situation is starting to change.

Lockhart River is a remote community on the east coast of Cape York in far north Queensland, approximately 850 kilometres north of Cairns by road. The community of about 600 people is located near the coast and is bounded by rainforest, low mountain ranges and the sea. During the wet season, creeks and rivers flood and close the road into town from the highway. Sea and air are the only access at this time. In some wet seasons the road can be closed from December until June.

The coastline is strung with sandy beaches where creeks and rivers enter the sea through mangrove protected estuaries. Traditional foods (bush tucker and seafood) are popular. People enjoy their traditional lands and retain many aspects of traditional culture.

During the 1990s a group of young, contemporary artists developed in the community. The ‘Art Gang’, as they are known locally and now more widely, emerged in 1995. They are supported and work professionally through the Lockhart River community Art Centre.

The Centre was set up in 1997 in a refurbished building (recently extended) to provide work space and support for the members of the Art Gang. All of these artists are between 20 and 30 years old. Their main works are paintings on canvas and fine art prints.

The best known of the Lockhart River artists include Rosella Namok, Samantha Hobson, Fiona Omeenyo, Silas Hobson and Adrian King. For details, see our page on Lockhart River Artists.

Fiona Omeenyo painting
Fiona Omeenyo


Rosella Namok painting
Rosella Namok
Silas Hobson painting
Silas Hobson

The Art Gang’s work is a contemporary response to the environment, culture and traditions of this isolated Aboriginal Community. It expresses some of the realities of being Aboriginal and the strong influences of traditional culture and values in their world. They have developed their own forms of expression which are very different from the art of central Australia and other parts of Australia. The art from Lockhart River promotes the cultural identity of young Aboriginal people in contemporary Australian culture.


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