KEN THAIDAY Snr has contemporised the culture of headdress making, mobilising his work with complex systems of strings and pulleys so his machines move in ingenious ways and as one with the dance's choreography as the shark's mouth opens and then snaps shut. The works are grand in scale but composed in the greatest detail with many small components.
Brakes on hard – the engines of our little plane roar – brakes off, sling shot, we lift quickly off the short runway, the wind takes control. Then we are looking at the blue green sea below, with its coral cays and reefs. As we approach Erub we can see the joy on KEN THAIDAY Snr's face, the joy of coming home.
We bank and approach the very short and sloping hillside runway – bang, we are down, brakes on again, we park the plane and greet the welcoming party. A paradise of smiling faces, we are off to meet the Sea People of the Torres Strait.
KEN THAIDAY Snr takes us on a remarkable and personal journey to Erub in the Torres Strait. Home to one of Queensland’s most remote communities, Erub (Darnley Island) is on the edge of Australian territory in the eastern group of Torres Strait Islands. Papua New Guinea is only a short journey away in a tinnie, the local name for the small aluminium boats used in the Torres Strait.
Erub is a place where music and dance are important foundations to cultural practice and creativity, once more on the rise through a revival in artistic activity.
For KEN his beliefs and his culture are what make him an important figure as a Torres Strait artist. As a senior man, he has a very important role in passing on cultural knowledge to younger generations of Torres Strait Islanders.
NATASHA McKINNEY, Curator Oceania, The British Museum