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© Billy John McFarlane Missi/ Licensed by Viscopy, 2017

Links

Date: 2006
Dimensions:
Overall: 997 x 675 mm
Medium: Linocut printed in black ink
Credit Line: ANMM Collection
Object Copyright: © Billy John McFarlane Missi
Classification:Art
Object Name: Linocut
Object No: 00049228
Place Manufactured:Cairns
Related Place:Torres Strait, Indian Ocean, Australia, Coral Sea, Timor Sea, Arafura Sea, Cape York Peninsula, Pacific Ocean, Papua New Guinea, Western,

User Terms

    Description
    This linocut by Billy Missi is titled Links and has been printed in black from one block. It is a representation of the trade, language and inter-marriage between Papua New Guinea, the Torres Strait and northern Australia.
    SignificanceThrough his artwork Billy Missi expresses the importance of his cultural heritage and kinships and demonstrates how this, in the form of the knowledges and stories shared in Zenadh Kes (Torres Strait) culture, has sustained his people to survive for many, many generations in the Torres Strait. This linocut shows the significance of Papua New Guinea and mainland Aboriginal Australia on Torres Strait Islander society and culture.

    HistoryArtist's statement:

    This image is an expression on trade, language and inter-marriage between Mugie Daudai (Papua New Guinea), Kie 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 with the western province of Papua New Guinea 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, which 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 Papuan 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 were accepted by families in additional kinship, and 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 (South Sea Islanders, 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 the islands. The two intricate areas on the top and bottom represent Papua New Guinea and Australia. Characters depict what was traded, for example, shells for chest pendants and parts of ceremonies that were adopted. The wavy line running horizontally represents the turbulent current which flows through the Strait 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'.

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