Trevor ‘Turbo’ Brown
Trevor ‘Turbo’ Brown was a Latje Latje man who was born in 1967 and grew up in Mildura. Turbo was born with an intellectual disability and abandoned by his family at a young age, Turbo spent much of his youth homeless.
By 1982, Turbo was slipping into alcohol abuse and crime when a local policeman introduced him to Uncle Herb Batten and his wife, Aunty Bunta. They adopted Turbo and moved to Melbourne where he took up boxing and became a keen rapper and breakdancer where he took his nickname ‘Turbo’ at this time.
In 2001, Uncle Herb and Aunty Bunta enrolled in a diploma of visual arts at the Bundoora RMIT campus and took Turbo along and in just a few years, Aunty Bunta and Uncle Herb could see that art had transformed Turbo’s life.
Turbo painted animals because, as he told Uncle Herb, when he was a teenager living on the Mildura streets and the Murray River bank, the animals were his only friends.
His first solo exhibition at the Koorie Heritage Trust in Melbourne in 2004 was a sell-out, with almost all of the pieces bought by the opening night, from this point Turbo’s has achieved substantial recognition for his art practice across the world. Turbo’s work was in the finals of the 22nd National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Art Awards in 2005, 2006, and 2008.
In 2006, Turbo was included in ‘Landmarks’ – an exhibition curated by Judith Ryan and Stephen Gilchrist – at the National Gallery of Victoria. Judith Ryan, senior curator of Indigenous Art, commented at the time that he produces work “of energy and integrity that is strongly expressive of his cultural identity”.
Turbo’s work has also been acquired by and is in the collections of the National Gallery of Victoria and the National Gallery of Australia. He has exhibited at the prestigious Rebecca Hossack Gallery in London and has had very successful shows at Rex Livingston in Sydney, Boscia Galleries in Melbourne and his work was also included in Gori-Illa, a show of approximately 90 Aboriginal artists from across Australia which travelled to Italy.
In March 2012, Turbo won the Deadly Art Award, Victoria’s highest honour for an Indigenous artist, at the 2012 Victorian Indigenous Art Awards for his painting “Owl Dreaming”. Turbo practises out of the Kreisler Gallery in Brunswick, owned by his friend and manager Nick Kreisler, using the dynamic Brunswick cultural hub to produce his works and meet new people.
Turbo passed away suddenly in early 2017, aged 49.
Animals are my friends; they come to me in my dreams.
– Trevor 'Turbo' Brown, 2012