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© Billy John McFarlane Missi/ Licensed by Viscopy, 2017

Thadharal Sinik (Spear Fishing)

Date: 2007
Overall: 695 x 900 mm
Medium: Linocut printed in black ink
Credit Line: ANMM Collection
Object Copyright: © Billy John McFarlane Missi
Object Name: Linocut
Object No: 00049229
Place Manufactured:Cairns
Related Place:Torres Strait,

User Terms

    This linocut by Billy Missi is titled ‘Thadharal Sinik’ (Spear Fishing) and is printed in black ink from one block. It reveals the ways in which boys in the Torres Strait are taught to fish - how, when and where according to the time of day, and to be aware of the dangers of the reef.
    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 activities such as spear fishing in everyday Torres Strait Islander culture, particularly in learning important skills on how to hunt and survive in the maritime environment.

    HistoryArtist's statement:

    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 the seagrass beds around the surroundings 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 school of fish coming in; the two young men practise their skills.

    It is common that when there are 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 the 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.

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