A collaborative print between two experienced and very skilled artists from two Indigenous cultures – Glen Mackie (Torres Strait Islander) and Arone Meeks (Aboriginal).
Originally commissioned by My Pathways, Cairns.
Highlighting themes of respect – relationships – opportunities – reconciliation. Extracts from images of previous works by the artists were employed as discussion points including Kei Kalak’s Tagai, Titui Inw Yalpaik and The Journey of Malu, Sigai, Kulka & Siu. Images of Arone’s works included Celebration, Boab Lovers, Navigation Story, and Spirit Ark.
The central longboat represents the universal metaphor of containment, inclusiveness, and life’s journey. Depicted on the side of the longboat is Kei Kalak’s crocodile totem, promising protection for its passengers, its cunning and fearless calm attitude capable coping with the many dangerous obstacles of life. The Tiger shark, his mother’s totem, is seen in opposition; confronting, dangerous. Kalak’s choice of three-dimensional depiction of the shark against the more traditional crocodile design acknowledges both island and western artistic traditions, having descended from both.
Central in the work is a strong male elder teaching law. Traditional knowledge is conveyed to youth to help them achieve confidence and maturity in adulthood: spirituality, emotionally and intellectually.
Four ‘Bala’ – above the male mentor and children are four masked ceremonial lawmen: Malu, Sigai, Kulka and Siu dominating the cultural lives of Zenadh Kes (Torres Strait) Islanders from a distant time past. A star in the sky represents the power of hope and the appointment of Jesus Christ to assure peace, security, and continuity amongst Indigenous people – an important institution in the later years of the 19th century, which created a bridge to the greater world beyond. The spirit of forgiveness is of particular importance and exists today as a powerful comfort for Islanders facing the disruptive burden of relentless change and ‘progress’. The rainbow snake binds tribes throughout Australia. Kei Kalak adapts the sea snake to Islanders for this purpose.
Arone states of his contribution: The seated spirit figure covered in designs on the left personifies Indigenous Australians generally. Exposed are the jewel-like, vital but vulnerable organs demanding care and respect. The figure ascending the stars cradles his head – connecting stars to country, while touching heart and lungs, asserting the need for compassionate personal, environmental, and spiritual wellbeing. To the left of the seated figure rising from the stern of the boat is a youth bearing dillybags – implying the collecting of cultural and practical knowledge to mature into adulthood. The large circular sphere has many mirrored points of the iconic Southern Cross constellation. Energy patterns signify not only the cyclonic action typical of our south Pacific region but also the creative and collaborative powers of our journey towards reconciliation.” Arone continues, “The Lovers constellation was inspired by Kimberley boab nut carvings. It is used here to signify spiritual unity and harmony.