Australian Indigenous artist Otis Hope Carey on his collaboration with LonginesJamie Weiss
As a small, isolated country far from the traditional centres of luxury, Australia often doesn’t receive much attention from luxury brands. That’s why it’s so cool that Longines’ latest collaboration is with an Australian artist – and more importantly, an Indigenous Australian artist, Otis Hope Carey. A proud Gumbaynggirr/Bundjalung man, artist and professional surfer, Carey’s works are expansive, fluid, colourful, and deeply personal. Known for his murals, Carey is a must-know Australian artist, with the double Australian Indigenous Surfing Titles-winner having collaborated with director Taika Waititi to create the cloak worn by Chris Hemsworth in Thor: Love and Thunder – bringing Indigenous art to the world stage.
Carey’s collaboration with Longines has seen his signature motifs – reinterpreted fragments of traditional symbols and stories infused with a modern sensibility – brought to a collection of four unique NATO straps for the Longines HydroConquest GMT, which radically change the way this otherwise traditional dive watch looks.
“Our collaboration with the incredibly talented Otis Hope Carey brings a unique blend of art and craftsmanship to Longines. These special edition NATO straps are a testament to our shared passion for creativity and elegance, embodying a spirit of innovation and individuality”, Longines CEO Matthias Breschan explains.
We had the chance to chat with Otis about the collaboration as well as the significance of not only his chosen motifs but also what it means to work with a watch brand like Longines.
T+T: The ocean is especially important to you and the Gumbaynggirr people. Can you share a bit about your relationship with the ocean?
Otis: For us Gumbaynggirr mob, Gaagal – the ocean – is actually our shared totem. So it’s very important. We’re always down the ocean together. A lot of survival days. We’re all sitting down in the ocean in circle, hanging out. It’s a very, calming, very healing very energising place… It’s a very special place, not just for us, but for everyone as well.
T+T: Do you ever surf with your Longines HydroConquest GMTs?
Otis: I do, yeah. They’re pretty sturdy – I wear it out in the bush, thrashing around, while sculpting wood… And I bang them up, but they’re pretty tough. I’ve got a couple that are definitely covered in paint. I just love wearing them, so the only time I take them off is when I remember before bed.
T+T: Many of your best-known artworks (such as your murals) are expansive, big pieces. Was it a challenge bringing your art to such a small canvas like a watch’s strap?
Otis: It’s always pretty challenging because you don’t know how the work is going to look when it’s reproduced, because my work is quite large in scale, you can say… So yeah, I was a little bit nervous, but I think they look so nice. They really fit the shape and the size of the watches.
T+T: Is there a significance behind the choice of colours for the straps?
Otis: A lot of the colour work that I use is usually a reference to the colours around headlands – around the oceans, like the colour of grass, the colour of the rockpools, the colour of certain flowers at certain times of the year. So yeah, there definitely is some reference to that in the colourways.
T+T: How has your artistic process evolved in the years since you’ve started exhibiting art – and how does surfing influence your art?
Otis: The more that I grow within myself, and learn to understand who I am as a person and where I want to go in life… I think the work just naturally evolves with that. And, I used to think surfing and art were really different but they actually coincide really well together. The way that I perform on a wave is quite much the same as I perform brushwork on a canvas. Surfing is so free-spirited, and art’s the same. It’s just an expression of freedom, really.
T+T: How significant is it for luxury brands like Longines to collaborate with Indigenous artists like yourself?
Otis: I think it’s great. It creates a space for everybody to learn from each other. I also think Indigenous art sits really well with high-end brands – it really does.
T+T: What’s your vision for the future of Indigenous art in Australia?
Otis: I’m not sure. I just want Indigenous art to be respected. With a light of love and acceptance really, because I know that a lot of Indigenous art gets overlooked. It’s not really looked at in the same light as, say portraiture artists who are very successful. Not sure why though – it just seems to be the way it is, but it’s getting better.
I think people nowadays just want to learn so much from Indigenous people because we have so much to offer in terms of spiritual connection with the way the land is. And I think people are starting to come to that within themselves: to learn about the environment around them.
T+T: If Longines taps you again, what would your dream collaboration with them look like? What would you really like to do with a watch?
Otis: I feel like we’ve pretty much hit the nail on the head with what we’ve done, but I reckon it’d be pretty cool to do a watch dial… I think the hard thing would be to make sure the art and the watch dial don’t get lost together, as my art is quite busy. But I’m sure there would be something there to work with…
Find out more about the Longines HydroConquest GMT x Otis Hope Carey collection at Longines’ online boutique here.