In Profile: Michael Norman

Pormpuraaw Arts and Cultural Centre

“I am a Thaayorre culture and saltwater man. Pormpuraaw country belongs to my clan and I own important inland freshwater country. This place is where the rainbow serpent emerged from under a big rock and spat out all living animals. My country is who I am. I belong to it, and it belongs to me. We believe that an artwork made in our country belongs to it. So we often feel sad when an artwork leaves Pormpuraaw to be exhibited elsewhere. It’s like a part of us is leaving.

“I started working at Pormpuraaw Art Centre in 2014. I am glad to be part of the art centre and to work with my fellow artists and countrymen. I have made paintings and prints, but now spend most of my time making 3D works from ghost net. I am happy to be sharing my culture with the outside world. My totems are the emu, black duck and spear and through my work I celebrate these totems and the song-lines of my ancestors.”

Michael Norman’s work has a contemporary yet naive style. It is sincere, connected and always experimental. In 2016 he exhibited two impressive ghost net sculptures at the Musee de Oceanographique Monaco. These works incorporate the use of galvanised fence, which the artist felt reflected the pattern of netting and represented the crocodile scale.

Michael Norman’s work is on show at the Pormpuraaw Art Centre, Cairns, and Tali Gallery in Sydney. In the past his work has been exhibited in Paris, Geneva, NYC, Cairns Indigenous Art Fair, Darwin Aboriginal Art Fair, the IACA Kinship exhibition in Cairns, and Tarnanthi in Adelaide.

My country is who I am. I belong to it, and it belongs to me. We believe that an artwork made in our country belongs to it.

Michael Norman

Main image credit: Michael Norman with Big Croc. Image: Pormpuraaw Arts and Cultural Centre

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