Featured Artist: Jessica Tobin

Jessica Tobin Ochre tree painting, Parramatta Naidoc 2018.

Jessica Tobin is an emerging Darug artist, born in the Blue Mountains with ongoing connection to her traditional Country. She is a descendent of the Boorooberongal and Wumali clans of the Darug, the traditional custodians of the Greater Western Sydney region. She is currently studying a Bachelor of Arts majoring in Communication and Art history at the University of Newcastle.

After moving to Bellingen at age 5, Jessica maintained a connection to her father and country throughout her childhood. She relocated to Newcastle in her teenage years in order to become closer with her maternal family. Jessica now lives in Redfern, whilst operating Durunanang from her father’s studio in Katoomba. Jessica has also recently secured a studio space at 107 Projects, Redfern as a resident artist.

Having watched her father Chris Tobin evolve his practice as an educational tool, over 30 years, Jessica understands the value of her father’s message. Chris’s cultural talks seek to reveal the truth of Australian history whilst celebrating the beauty of our Ancient Aboriginal culture. Jessica carries the same hope for a brighter future, as she sets out to follow in his footsteps.

With the onset of the current pandemic, Jessica returned home to Country and stayed with her father, to not only ensure that he was supported but to also strengthen her connection to Country and Culture. After organising his studio full of various research, artworks and Native title claims, she was inspired to create her own company, Durunanang (Durunanang is the Darug word for ‘Daughter’) and through this company Jessica follows on from her father’s practice to educate people about the importance of caring for Country and one other.

Jessica’s work seeks to create connections between the observer and the land they stand on, by highlighting their shared role in caring for Country. Her work hopes to convey the intrinsic spiritual connection Aboriginal people have to Country; a connection that is often hidden beneath the concrete and tar jungle of the city and suburbs.

She is also closely involved in cultural restoration. Throughout her university career she has studied with her Aunt Leanne Tobin, another Blue Mountains artist, trained schoolteacher and Cultural Educator. Jessica has worked with her Auntie across schools in the Blue Mountains on murals to engage students. She hopes that these works can be used to teach children about the importance of the lands around them and to share the beauty of our traditional values. To promote a different perspective on Australia and its history and how we can care for the land and each other. Reinvigorating indigenous knowledge, song, dance and love for one another as we know there is a better and simpler way to live.

In her new series ‘Finding a voice with terms and conditions’, Jessica explores the contemporary conversations around Black Lives Mateer, climate change and land rights. These conversations seek to give a platform to Indigenous and BLAK voices. Through her artwork, Jessica acknowledges the consequences of speaking out and the risks that Indigenous professionals take by participating in these conversations and demonstrations.

As a descendant of the traditional caretakers of this land, the Darug people, Jessica seeks to promote personal responsibilities within our own environment. She believes this is best achieved through art & education, and that if people learnt more about Aboriginal culture and the history of this Country, they would love the country more and hopefully develop a better relationship with it.

Jessica Tobin can be found on Instagram at Durunanang , Facebook ‘Durunanang’  and her website and online shop will be opening soon at www.Durunanang.com

Jessica Tobin, The Kiss – After Gustav Klimt, Painting 2012