Road trains and paintings: Indigenous artist Cameron Benson launches first exhibition

By Spencer Fowler Steen

For indigenous artist Cameron Benson, driving trucks and painting are two things he does well. Instead of mindlessly scrolling through his Facebook feed on breaks between Geelong and Melbourne, Mr Benson uses his time to paint.

And now, after years of roadside painting, Mr Benson has launched his first ever exhibition titled Let The Light Shine showcasing 17 contemporary indigenous Australian animals at the Koori Heritage Trust at Federation Square.

Mr Benson said he was incredibly excited.

“There’s 17 paintings, all different Australian animals; a kookaburra, a wombat, fighting kangaroos, a couple of turtles and a few other ones including some yabbies,” he said. 

“It’s a contemporary style, it probably looks Aboriginal. But mine don’t have stories or cultural significance.”

Mr Benson used to live in Horsham where he painted T-shirts and other nick-knacks.

But four years ago, after finding painting T-shirts was no longer viable, he packed up and left to Geelong to seek a better market for his artwork. 

Mr Benson began refining his style using different tools to paint on canvas while driving trucks between Geelong and Melbourne, where he would often stop en route at service stations for a break and a scroll through his social media feed.

But something about it didn’t gel with his desire for efficiency.

“I thought I better get something done,” Mr Benson said.

“Now, I do most of my work in my truck when I’m on a break. I’ve got a tray, I’ve got liquid paints, and when I get a chance, I get them out.”

“I have a stretched canvas in the back – it’s better than sitting on Facebook all day.”

When it comes to his artistic process, Mr Benson often draws inspiration for his outlines from photographs.

On a recent trip to Tasmania with his wife, Mr Benson snapped a few photos of a Tasmanian devil, which he used to sketch out the outline for one of the paintings in his exhibition.

But Mr Benson’s true inspiration comes from above.

“I believe I get inspiration from God – he gave me creative ability and I’d go give him the glory for the artwork I do,” Mr Benson said.

“That’s why I called it [the exhibition] Let The Light Shine.” 

Mr Benson said the title came from scripture, Matthew 5:16. 

Let The Light Shine will be showing from March 13 to May 23 at the Koorie Heritage Trust in the Yarra Building at Federation Square. Tickets are free •

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