Billy Missi, Thadharal sinik (spear fishing) 2008, linocut.
Linocut printed in black ink from one block
Edition of 90, 2008
Published by Djumbunji Press KickArts Fine Art Printmaking
Image size: 695mm x 900mm
Paper size: 810mm x 1100mm
Paper type: Arches BFK 300 GSM
Ink type: Van Son
Printed by: Theo Tremblay, Elizabeth Hunter
Billy Missi, 1970- 2012, was a Maluilgal man from Mabuiag Island in the Torres Strait. Billy is known as one of the leading printmakers of this region, having exhibited widely and achieved both national and international acclaim. He comes from a respected family of art practitioners and choreographers, from the tribes of Wagedagam, Geomu and Panai in Malu Lilgal (Western Torres Strait).
His work is based on reasons for survival. He states: "The Torres Strait has a complex history and culture, vegetation and eco systems that work with the phases of the moon, so the livelihood of people in that region is based on, and strongly connected with the natural surroundings, hunting and gathering, identifying foods. Its why our people have continued to pass on traditional stories and cultural traditions".
Story: "Thadharal is spear fishing. It is best to do this early in the morning when the tide comes in slowly, filling up the lagoons and seagrass beds around the surrounding reefs of our island's beaches and mangroves.
This fishing process takes certain skills which are usually taught by Wadhuams (uncles), such as identifying the tides which bring fish, how to spot them and how to throw the spear.
In this image an uncle and two nephews are spear fishing in the morning rising tide. They are all concentrating on the schools of fish coming in; the two young men practise their skills.
It is common that when there is plenty of fish the frigate birds (seagulls) and other sea birds are always not far from these activities, waiting to pick up the wounded ones. The thinking of the men and the birds are as one; concentrating on the fish.
Spear fishing has its dangers as well, especially when you are walking. The men have to watch out for standing on stingrays, stonefish or other sharp shells lying on the reef where they walk in search of incoming fish.
The two young men are also being taught how to identify these dangers."