Trevor 'Turbo' Brown
Turbo created his works based on his connection to the Australian landscape and the flora and fauna that make it their home. Turbo Sadly passed away in January, 2017.
Basing himself in Melbourne for the last 15 years - brought an urban edge to Turbo’s work, to accompany his memories of the bush and travelling Victoria.
The engaging and often multifarious narrative that Turbo constructs within his paintings of animals and country embody Turbo’s life experience and feelings. He is not just painting animals, he is representing his family and his friends through them, the canvas and the remarkable use of colour creates a space to explore his personal and reflective practice.
By sharing his story through art, and with his unique artistic approach, Turbo created an entirely distinct style of painting and contemporary expression, whilst also sharing complex layers of his personal history and that of his peoples.
His highly energetic and colourful paintings hold many stories and are a tangible example of Turbo’s spirit. Turbo also shares with the viewer his connection to animals on a very personal level, as he has said: “When I paint I feel like I’m in the Dreamtime and can see all the animals that live there”.
In the poignantly titled work Kangaroo, dingoes; brothers in arms, fighting for their country we are met with three animals, kangaroo to the left and two dingoes to the right. They are smiling seemingly happy, holding their shields and spears, proud of their country, owning their place within it, showing the viewer that through their difference they are one. The commonality between them is the love for their country, their traditional lands. But when we look deeper, are they welcoming? Are they, as stated in their title, fighting for their country, off to war, off to fight for their place within it? The shields have Victorian iconography patterned on them in blue and white. The animals seem to have a collar, are these symbols of constraint, of what they might be fighting for, or against?
We could then look at Dreamtime memorial spirit owls, which carry a sense of ancient belonging and wisdom. We can interpret the three owls as headstones, sitting stagnate in the night, memorials to the past and to animals that have become extinct, perhaps also referencing a cultural ‘memorialisation’ to the notion of ‘the Dreamtime’. This is something Turbo connects to deeply, but is not always understood or accepted as a current belief system of urban Aboriginal culture.
Beyond any symbolism or narrative Turbo attaches to his work, we are always confronted with strong visual imagery, playful use of colour and positioning of animals in an almost human way, sitting between the animal kingdom and that of us in our own environment. They bridge the gap between Turbo’s spirituality of culture, what he calls ‘his dreaming’, and reality. This is not something that can be put into one place or another, since it is a continuity of the life, culture and values that Turbo lived by every day.
Turbo shares his experiences and observations and it reminds us to look closely at our environment and at each other, be strong, be kind and most of all, listen to the animals..
“Animals are my friends; they come to me in my dreams”.
Trevor 'Turbo' Brown 2012
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Trevor 'Turbo' Brown