Links, Billy Missi, Linocut, edition of 90, 2006. Published by KickArts, printed by Theo Tremblay. Winner of 2006 Fremantle Print Award non-aquisitive prize.
Edition of 90, 2006
Paper type: Arches BFK 300 gsm
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).
Tribe: Wagedagam, Gumu, Panai, Sipangur
Totem: Koedal, Kaigas, Dhangal
Language: Kala Lagaw Ya
Language Block: Western Torres Strait
Story: "This image is an expression on trade, language and inter-marriage between Naigai Dagam Daudai (Papua New Guinea), Zai Dagam Daudaia (Australia) and our homeland.
Trade once flowed throughout the Torres Strait Region like a crawling snake leaving its tracks in time and its influence on the islands as we see today. Our people traded many things between the islands for many reasons, most were to the western province of PNG for they had bigger trees growing along their rivers to build dugout canoes, and a larger land mass with many resources.
Traders also came from as far as Cape York Peninsula's East and West coasts. This meant that they had to connect and socialise with the Islanders to assist in navigation through our treacherous waters, speak the language and to help them understand when they'd reach their destination on the PNG coast and vice versa for the Papuans heading to the mainland of Australia. During these connections many skills, methods and knowledge about survival were shared and adopted to our societal ways of living.
Most of them were accepted by families in additional kinship, this is why some families on the islands have bloodlines to both Aboriginals and Papuans. This is also why we have a special 'Treaty' in place between the Torres Strait and the Western Province, Papua New Guinea.
Since the early 1900s when pearl shells were discovered in this region, people from other ethnic groups (eg South sea islandrs, Malaysians, Japanese etc.) have been attracted to the region to work and trade in this industry. This is how the Torres Strait became a Multicultural Society.
The five vertical wave patterned lines represent the cluster groups affected in the region. The five horizontal patterned lines represent lines of kinship between islands. The two intricate areas on the top and bottom represent Papua New Guinea and Australia. Characters depict what was traded eg shells for chest pendants, parts of ceremonies that were adopted etc. The wavy line running horizontally represents the turbulent current which flows through the Straits from the Coral Sea to the Timor and Arafura Seas.
All this is what makes our culture significant, living in the middle of two land masses and the waterways that link the Pacific Ocean to the Indian Ocean. All the aspects of those movements of so long ago have impacted on our lives and as a result we are all linked in many ways, therefore I title this piece 'Links'."