With a white cane and the assistance of his father, Tony, Port Stephens artist Joseph Formosa makes his way slowly but surely across the rock shelf near Newcastle Ocean Baths.
- Joseph was inspired to create after visiting the beach
- He uses camera and a large computer screen as tools to sketch
- The paintings use Indigenous methods and motifs
Arriving at a rock pool, he takes out a small digital camera and focuses the lens on the contents of the clear, shallow water.
The artist was first inspired to pick up a paint brush while walking along the beach and seeing a star fish.
“It was really exciting,” he said.
“It feels great to realise there’s a connection between nature and myself. It’s a good feeling.”
Back at his home studio Mr Formosa, who is profoundly deaf and has only 3 per cent vision, enlarges the images of shells, anemones, crabs and star fish on a computer screen.
He sketches the details on paper, which form the basis of the paintings he creates on canvas and paints using a dot painting style and Aboriginal motifs.
Mr Formosa says the artworks convey “the story of how sea creatures feel and what they do in the sea”.
“Each painting I do I try to tell the story about how solo or groups of sea creatures can cope while alone and away from the world,” Mr Formosa said.
Mr Formosa is part of NAIDOC Exhibition 2020 — not his first exhibition — on display at the John Hunter Hospital in Newcastle.
The exhibition is mounted by the Arts For Health program, which provides opportunities for the artists to support the hospital system and engage with the greater community.
Making an impact on audiences
Arts For Health Coordinator Juliet Ackery said Mr Formosa’s art work was always popular.
“So many people, staff members and visitors, have stopped me in the hospital,” Ms Ackery said
“I think for a lot of people coming into the hospital, especially around Aboriginal art, they want to have a connection.
“They want to be educated and they want to feel a connection to his work.”
For Mr Formosa the motivation to create comes from the chance to make an income and have an impact on audiences.
“When my art is shown, I feel motivated and encouraged that people — through my art — will have a better understanding of being deafblind and the connection that we all have,” Mr Formosa said.
The artist, whose grandfather was part of the Yuin nation from the New South Wales south coast, has also formed social connections through his art, at the Raymond Terrace Indigenous Mens Shed.
“I like doing art, because I enjoy learning about my culture through art,” he said.