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Reproduced courtesy of Maryann Bourne

Au Gem Wali (Island Dress)

Date: 2016
Overall: 1245 × 500 mm
Medium: Ghost Net
Credit Line: ANMM Collection Purchased with funds from the Sid Faithfull and Christine Sadler program supporting Contemporary Indigenous Maritime Heritage in Far North Queensland and the Torres Strait Islands through the ANM Foundation
Object Copyright: © Maryann Bourne
Object Name: Dress
Object No: 00054888
Place Manufactured:Torres Strait
Related Place:Australia,

User Terms

    Before the Christian missionaries arrived on our shores in 1871, ancestral women of the Torres Strait wore only grass skirts called 'Wesur', 'Zazi', 'Tolop' and 'Wali'. Dresses were introduced to the native women after the landing of the missionaries, through time succesive generations of island women in dressmaking continued to modify the 'Au Gem Wali' to what is worn today. All island clusters within the Torres Strait region have their own native language name for Au Gem Wali. The dress is made out of ghost net and rope. The colours chosen by the artist represents the Torres Strait women.
    SignificanceSignificant in providing a contemporary Torres Strait Island voice to changes and influence to traditional cultural practices upon european occupation. Also addresses modern day issues around environment foccusing on the sea and reflecting back on the impact this has for Australia and also the impact it has on the people of the Torres Strait.
    HistoryWinning entry of the National Museum of Australia History Through Art Award at the 2016 Gab Titui art awards. Reflects upon traditional dress and changes of dress for the women of the Torres Straits. Also reflects upon the enviromental damages that are happening in the Torres Straits with the large amount of ghost nets infiltraiting the waters and killing the marine life. The artist has mixed the old with the new. This work particulary looks at old practices intermingled with contemporary aspects and content. The piece provides a contemporary contrast and an Indigenous interpretation in comparison to other material already held in the collection. It also looks at and addresses the changes and impacts bought about by the coming of the missionaries to the Torres Strait Islands.
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