Billy Missi, Sapur au kubi (dark flock of bats)

Billy Missi, Sapur au kubi (dark flock of bats)


Linocut printed in black ink from one block
Edition of 90, 2006
Published by Djumbunji Press KickArts Fine Art Printmaking
Image size: 700mm x 1000mm
Paper size: 800mm x 1180mm
Paper type: Arches BFK 300 gsm
Ink type: Van Son
Printed by Theo Tremblay, Paloma Ramos, Dian Darmansjah

Billy Missi, 1970- 2012, was from Kubin Village, Moa Island in Zenadh-Kes (the Torres Strait). His solo exhibition Urapun Kai Buai (one big kin) is currently touring Australia and his work focuses on family and cultural protocols and the artist's contemporary life experiences growing up in Zenadh-Kes. Missi is known as one of the leading printmakers of this region, having exhibited widely and achieved both national and international acclaim. He comes from a respected family of art practitioners and choreographers, from the tribes of Wagedagam, Geomu and Panai in Malu Lilgal (Western Torres Strait). His work is based on reasons for survival. He states: "The Torres Strait has a complex history and culture, vegetation and eco systems that work with the phases of the moon, so the livelihood of people in that region is based on, and strongly connected with the natural surroundings, hunting and gathering, identifying foods. Its why our people have continued to pass on traditional stories and cultural traditions"

Story: "During mango, almond and cashew nut season a lot of Sapur (flying foxes) come to our village and gardens. When the sun begins to set in the western sky, the Sapur usually come in flocks from the thick mangroves that fringe the coastline. The Sapur only come out at dusk to raid the fruit trees so that people cannot see them. Otherwise they would be targeted by hunters and chased away. Despite this they do make a lot of noise as they feed.

The Sapur suck the juice out of the fruit and dispose of the rest making a lot of mess under the trees. They do this all night until morning breaks when they take flight back to their isolated, thick scrubs and mangroves.

Growing up in the islands in the 1970s, these sightings were common during fruit season. It is our uncles who tell us that whenever flocks of Sapur approach the gardens, the fruit is ripe. This image shows a large number of Sapur flying to the village to feed on the fruit trees. They circle above the trees to choose where they will feed for the evening."