curatorial exhibitioin + publication
'Billy Missi'n Wakain Thamai' is an exhibition of visual artworks by the late Torres Strait Islander artist Billy Missi (1970 - 2012). NorthSite Contemporary Arts developed the project through consultation, research, interviews and storytelling. The exhibition team initiated the project by inviting a stakeholder focus group to reflect on the artists legacy. The exhibition curator Russell Milledge reflected on personal correspondence with the artist and drew on the familial knowledge of the Billy Missi Estate, family and close friends to hone the curatorial idea. The project started by paying respects to Billy at his tombstone. This process embedded community inclusion, through meaningful and insightful relationships, into the curatorial process.
The exhibition has five significant themes: Sagulal (Ceremony), Zugubal (Stars), Malu Ya (Sea), Meram ar Pui'lw Aidal (Plant cultivation), Buai Girelal (Kinship). The exhibition catalogue also featured the subtheme Sapural (Flying Fox). The curatorial writing is derived from interviews with those closest to the artist and accompanies 50 artworks selected for exhibition. The exhibition loaned works from the Djumbunji Fine Art Print collection, Editions Tremblay NFP, Pandanus Gallery and collector Kenny Bedford.
The project brings the artist's significance into perspective through the continuity of the Torres Strait Islander visual narrative within the works. The exhibition launch at the new Bulmba-ja Art Centre in Cairns included a performance by Maluilgal Dance Group (including Billy's immediate family members), Welcome to Country by Yidinji Traditional Owner Carl Fourmile and Maubiag Elder Cr. Gabriel Bani.
Along with high-quality artwork reproductions and stories, the 80-page catalogue includes the curator's essay, messages from the Federal and State Arts Ministers, and NorthSite Director's introduction. Translated to Kala Lagaw Ya by Elder Cr. Gabriel Bani.
The Billy Missi Estate, Edna Wittkopp, Dennis Nona, Theo Tremblay, Cr Gabriel Bani Kenny Bedford, Peggy Misi, Moa Arts Centre
NorthSite Contemporary Arts | Bonemap
Australia Council for the Arts | The Queensland Government | James Cook University
above: Untitled | Constellation and Kinship 2009 vinylcut 645 x 990 mm
below: Ari Sulam Ka | Calling On the Rain 2007 linocut 1005 x 1615 mm