Indigenous artist Brian Robinson explores the conceptual framework of traditional Torres Strait Islander astronomy with his large-scale artwork, Baidam Tithuyil that references the Great Shark constellation.
Everything under creation is represented in the sky. The stars inform Islander laws, customs and practices that are recorded and handed down in the form of story, song, dance, ceremony and artefacts. Astronomy plays a significant role in Zenadh Kes Torres Strait cultural traditions that link to constellations of stars in the southern sky. This includes Baidamu, the Great Shark constellation which is made up of the stars in the Big Dipper, part of the constellation Ursa Major (The Big Bear).
Baidamu first appears in the north over New Guinea during kuki (April). When these stars are seen, Islanders know the mating season of the shark is starting and that they should prepare their gardens with crops of banana, sugar cane, and sweet potato. Skill in gardening was dependant on understanding the seasons and the constellations including knowledge of tides, and the migration of animals.
In this artwork produced from a carved lino cut print, Robinson shares with audiences the importance of knowing and learning about these wonderous and unique aspects of Queensland cultural knowledge, so that they are respected as existing and enduring knowledges.
About the Creator
Brian Robinson is a celebrated Indigenous artist of his generation, a leader in his field in Australia and his community, and has recently developed a strong international reputation. He is of the Kala Lagaw Ya and Wuthathi language groups of the Torres Strait and Cape York Peninsula. Born in 1974 on Waiben (Thursday Island) and now Cairns-based, Robinson is known for his printmaking and public sculptures that use a variety of techniques to produce bold, innovative and distinctive works. His work is a unique blend of the organic and manmade. It observes the traditions and styles of the Torres Strait but also the influence of Western art history, popular culture and wide-ranging graphic traditions. In recent years, it is his public art practice that has brought him mainstream attention.
For more information: onespacegallery.com.au/brian-robinson
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