Colin Brown stands with hands clasped behind his back behind his rounded white dugong sculpture.
The artwork is one of more than 150 on display at the Cairns Indigenous Art Fair, an explosion of colour and creativity packed into a huge shed at the Cairns Cruise Liner Terminal in Far North Queensland.
Not only is this Colin’s first time at a large-scale art show, it is also his first attempt at Hebel stone carving. No one was more surprised than Colin when the sculpture was among the first pieces sold, catching the eye of a Sydney-based museum curator.
"I wasn’t expecting that!" he said. "I heard it got sold the opening day and it was one of the first items in this whole gallery to be sold.
"I felt really happy about it, you know? But really, I was shocked at first"
"I felt really happy about it, you know? But really, I was shocked at first."
Children rush to run their hands over the dugong sculpture's smooth surface, while parents ask Colin if he has other sculptures for sale.
"People keep coming up here and touching it, you know, rubbing it," Colin said. “People are asking me if I’ve got anymore in stock, but I told them this was my first carving I’ve ever done out of Hebel."
Colin laughs when asked where he got the idea for the sculpture. "Oh it was my other half,” he explained. "She actually wanted to do a dugong, but she broke it.
"I was just bored one day and I just picked up the chisel and started chiselling away. And she got shocked!”
It took Colin four days to shape the carving, and another four to add the finishing touches.
"I just took my time on it, like I’d start at 9 o’clock in the morning and I’d even finish at 9 at night."
"I’ve got a land on the top end of the island where I can work in peace. I got the sea breeze right in front of me, the ocean, other islands looking across"
The emerging artist has an enviable workshop on Mornington Island in the Gulf of Carpentaria.
"I’ve got a land on the top end of the island where I can work in peace. I got the sea breeze right in front of me, the ocean, other islands looking across."
Colin said he couldn't wait to fly home and start working on his next sculpture. "I’ve got customers coming round to look at my artwork and asking me for more… it makes me feel good in my heart, you know?"