Lag Ma'al a Dapar - Land, Sea and Sky
Held over and continued online
Exhibition: The Spirits in the Art
· Art Practice
· Image Gallery
The Spirits in the Art
The small islands of Torres Strait sit silently between the two giant lands of new Guinea and Australia. Torres Strait Islanders have always been specialised sea peoples and the sea’s sacred endowment has remained influential.
Seascapes are spirit scapes, and the land is but a speck in a sea-world stretching on all sides, ever more open and vast than the enclosing coastline. It is in this spiritual orientation, of the sea that Torres Strait Islander culture has long operated. The sea holds power as a spirit-world, from the depths of the ocean where sea spirits live, to the waters where the animals travel along spiritually predestined routes, to the sea surface where spiritual forces control the waves, into the skies where the winds blow, driving boats astray or bringing them home, and to the clan ougod, the sacred totems through which people identify with their spirit creatures, the sea is implicated.
The art of Dennis Nona speaks of these three dimensions, the sea, the spirits and storytelling through dance, music and artwork. His life as a professional artist began one night in 1992 when on return from pearl shelling, he had a dream in which he visualised a waterworld. The surface of the world was not horizontal but vertical, a curtain of waves draped in front of him. A shadow passed and stopped: the Zurath Dhaga, which the next morning he came to draw into his artwork. Dennis had found his style, his distinctive minarr
Three and a half thousand years of seascapes, of spirit worlds come together in these creations. They are testimonies to ancestral worlds which like knowledge of the constellation, we can only begin to imagine, to experience and to know.
Bruno David PhD. and Ian McNiven PhD.
Reproduced with permission of Mura Badulgal Native Title Corporation