Pormpuraaw artists turn ghost nets into world-renowned pieces

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Updated

June 28, 2017 12:00:56

From Cape York to New York, Indigenous artists are recycling abandoned fishing nets into pieces which are in high demand for exhibitions across the world.

Sculpted into mostly marine animals, the artists hope to raise awareness about what ghost nets do to the environment.

Thousands are found in Cape York and the wider northern Australia area. Brought in on northern currents, many are discarded by illegal fishers.

Artist Sid Bruce Shortjoe hoped the community’s art raises awareness about the damage the nets do to the marine environment.

“It’s not just art. It’s letting the outside world know,” he said.

Nearly 30 pieces from local artists are on display at the Paris Aquarium until August and will then be taken to Geneva for another exhibition.

Plans are in place for the art to move to Berlin after that.

Another 17 works will be on display at the United Nations in New York until the end of the month before being moved to Virginia’s Kluge-Ruhe for four months, to join the largest collection of aboriginal art in the United States.

Shortjoe has just returned to Pormpuraaw from a world tour, stopping in Sri Lanka, France and the US.

Hugging relatives, he said it was good to be home, despite the jet lag.

“New York — too much traffic,” he said.

“It was a real experience, going out there in another world … meeting different nationalities.”

Dave Holroyd also has sculptures in the travelling exhibition — he makes turtles which are his grandfather’s totem.

He started making his own works at the beginning of the year and is thrilled one of them is on display in New York.

One took two weeks to make with other artists in the community. It is made up of seven ghost nets.

“The sea turtle sometimes get caught in the net, it is not good.”

‘No word for art in local language’

Pormparaaw Arts and Cultural Centre manager Paul Jakubowski said art was just a part of life part in the community.

“These people have their country they have their language and culture and to them that’s all one thing, they don’t separate it out. Art is also part of that,” he said.

“They don’t have a language word for art.”

It is the townships only export industry.

“The world is hungry for it, Europe especially,” Mr Jakubowski said.

“They can’t get enough of the stories of culture from Sid.”

Topics:

indigenous-aboriginal-and-torres-strait-islander,

community-and-society,

arts-and-entertainment,

human-interest,

people,

visual-art,

environmental-impact,

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qld,

australia,

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First posted

June 28, 2017 06:49:09



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