Billy Missi, Warup (drum)
Edition of 90, 2007
Published by Djumbunji Press KickArts Fine Art Printmaking
Image size: 305mm x 405mm
Paper size: 510mm x 650mm
Paper type: Arches BFK 300 GSM
Ink type: Van Son
Printed by: Ron McBurnie
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) 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: "The Warup (drum) is one of the Torres Strait's main ceremonial items. It is used in traditional dances and other ritual performances.
In the Torres Strait some Warups are made on the Islands and some have been traded from the Western Province of Papua New Guinea. They are made out of a special tree which grows in the dense woodlands surrounding the salt pan areas behind the coastal mangroves.
The skins on the drum come from large goannas which roam the beaches and feed on fresh turtle eggs. The Warups are then decorated with cassowary feathers and bees' wax and carved with traditional designs which either represent the tribe or what the actual ceremony is about.
The Warup gives the impression of thunder and usually orchestrates the moves at dance ceremonies.
Today we still use the drums on our Islands and pass on the knowledge to our children of how significant this ceremonial item is. The craftsmen making the drums on the Islands are passing on the wonderful skills of carving as well."