Urapun Kai Buai

Contemporary Torres Strait linocuts by Billy Missi

The works featured in Urapun Kai Buai (one big kin) play a significant role in providing an insight into the Zenadh-Kes (Torres Strait) way of life through contemporary visual representations of traditional stories and culture.

Art Exhibition previously on at Perc Tucker Regional Gallery in Townsville precinct, Queensland, Australia.
From Friday 19 June 2009 to Sunday 16 August 2009
Launch Friday 19 June 2009, 7:00pm

Kulba Yadail (Old Lyrics) image

Published by anonymous on Tuesday 16 June 2009.
Contact the publisher.

Missi is rapidly gaining a reputation as an important guardian and ambassador of traditional Zenadh-Kes culture. His interest in art was initially stimulated when he viewed works by contemporary Torres Strait Islander artists in 1992. However, it was not until years later, with the support and encouragement from peer Dennis Nona, that he felt he could dedicate himself completely to his artistic pursuits.

The work focuses on everyday stories relating to kinship, the changing of the seasons, ceremony and day-to-day survival. They also deal with the importance of maintaining traditional cultural values, respecting traditional knowledge in the everyday, in the little stories of his culture – not just the big.

Missi speaks about his inspiration for the title piece;
“Torres Strait Islanders are all related to each other; or so my grandparents, uncles and aunties told me when I was young. Growing up in the islands has made me see and realise that. The sharing of food and traditional visits and staying over, in the village or on neighbouring islands, called Garab Thiay, are important kinship events.

Wongai is a native fruit of our region and I use it as a metaphor for kinship. Therefore it is placed at the very centre of this piece. The wavy lines going outwards represent the movement of relatives to all four corners of the Straits. This happened mainly through intermarriage.

Today the increase in intermarriage has made it far more complicated for modern Torres Strait Islanders to understand their family relationships. The patterns on the far left and right represent the fact that it is very important to our current elders to pass on the knowledge of these movements of people; for our kinship knowledge to be available to the younger generations, so they can know and consider them.”


Perc Tucker Regional Gallery
Cnr. Denham St & Flinders Mall