Billy Missi, Zagan gud aladhi (star constellation)
Linocut printed in black ink from one block, handcoloured
Edition of 90, 2007
Published by Djumbunji Press KickArts Fine Art Printmaking
Image size: 1000mm x 700mm
Paper size: 1200mm x 800mm
Paper type: Arches BFK 300 GSM
Ink type: Van Son
Printed by: Theo Temblay, Carolyn Craig
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: "Zagal are little fish that come around at a particular time of the year.
In this print I express the disappearance of the Baidam (shark) constellation - 'zugu bau thithuil'. Our culture's ontological belief is that during August when the Baidam disappears from the northern sky of the Torres Strait and all you see is other groups of stars, that's when the first group of migrant birds (birubirul) pass through from Papua New Guinea to mainland Australia. Early morning low tides become regular, which we call in our language Baidam au Thugau (meaning Baidam low tide in Kala Lagaw Ya, the Western Torres Strait Island dialect).
This is usually at the end of wongai season and signifies the beginning of the turtle mating season also.
Zagal are plenty at this time, so bigger fish attack and chase them along the reefs. The sharks, which are pregnant, chase the bigger fish to eat.
These are times when there are only low tides in the morning and at night and only high tides during the day, leading up to the big spring tides."