Blak Douglas has painted Dujuan Hoosan, an Arrernte and Garrwa youth who, in 2019 at the age of 12, became the youngest person ever to address the UN Human Rights Council in Geneva, speaking out about juvenile incarceration in Australia. An angangkere (healer) who speaks three languages yet was considered a ‘failure’ at school, Hoosan is the subject of a recent groundbreaking documentary, In my blood it runs, which provides a powerful voice for the need for First Nations-led education and raising the minimum age of children in detention.
‘In painting the portrait I’ve attempted to marry Dujuan’s divine youth with his inherited ancient wisdom. My customary seven bands in the background represent the Seven Sisters, here stylised in the colours of the Northern Territory flag. The text is quotes from Dujuan, presented as lines written on a school blackboard,’ Douglas says.
Born in 1970 to an Aboriginal father of the Dhungutti people and an Irish-Australian mother, Douglas lives and works in Sydney. Originally trained in illustration and photography, he is a self-taught painter whose bold works focus on what it means to be an Aboriginal person in the 21st century. Douglas was awarded the 2019 Kilgour Prize for figurative and portrait painting. This is his fourth time as an Archibald finalist.