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This linocut served as the template for the monumental 37 metre x 18 metre vinyl installation that is adhered to the rooftop floor of the Oceanographic Museum of Monaco for the 2016 exhibition, ‘Australia: Defending the Oceans’, in which the artist is a major participant.

Throughout 2016 the main theme of the Oceanographic Museum is the preservation of sea turtles. Tipoti’s linocut and massive rooftop installation pay homage to this theme. The lifestyle of turtles – their courtship, mating and nesting.

In the Western Torres Strait language, Kala Lagaw Ya, the turtle mating season is called Solalaw Thonar. This occurs in November and is heralded by the migration of Goeynaw (Torres Strait Pigeon) and Birubiru (Swallow) from Papua New Guinea to the Australian mainland.

The large turtle dominating the lino is a female Greenback (Waaru). The circular patterns represent the lifecycle of the turtle and their fight for survival. Their perils start after hatching where they run the gauntlet of predators such as feral pigs, goannas and birds as they head down the sand to the open sea. Baby turtles must then evade crocodiles and large fish and as they mature they are subject to pollution, being trapped in ghost nets and bycatch, injury from boating, the ingestion of plastics and hunters.

The patterns running across the print evoke the sea current flowing against the wind called Guthath.

Interconnecting forms and optical illusion are a significant aspect of Tipoti’s artistic strategy. This is demonstrated in the print where decorative patterning or Minaral merges into an almost hidden profusion of marine creatures.

Within the large turtle can be seen –
Front left flipper – Kazilayg (pregnant dugong)
Front right flipper – Barakuthaw Garka (male dugong ready to mate)
Centre of turtle back – Koey Bidhay (large squid), Moei Bidhay (small squid)
Left of turtle back – Gaapu (remora or sucker fish), Dhubur (male turtle), Baydham (shark)
Right of turtle back – Kayar (crayfish), Taadu (sand crab), Moeyen (night fish)

Around the edge of print clockwise from bottom left can be seen  – Sugu (octopus), Poeka (young female dugong), Wap (fish), Kayar (crayfish), Boengadh (species of jellyfish), Thupmul (file ray), Bidhay (squid), Gurba (crab).





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Alick Tipoti



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Torres Strait Islands


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David Jones Editions, Brisbane Qld.




David Jones