My art is based on legends of the Torres Strait where I depict my interpretations of the land, the sea, the sky, and the many different living creatures and spirits that exist here – as with other artists, I use my art as an educational tool, teaching people about important cultural events, practices and beliefs from the past.

In this documentary ALICK TIPOTI describes his culture in his voice, recalling the legends of his land through music and dance and art making. We travel to his home island of Badu in the Torres Strait.

Artist, ALICK TIPOTI, is a leader in the resurgence of Torres Strait culture. He is the first Torres Strait artist to have been selected to exhibit at the Biennale of Sydney (2012).

ALICK takes with him on his artistic journey the recognition and blessing of elders from the Torres Strait Islands that enable the artist, through his artistic ability and cultural knowledge, to produce his contemporary versions of the art of the Torres Strait.

As well as carving intricate and traditional Torres Strait Island Melanesian designs into linoleum and vinyl blocks for the creation of prints on paper, ALICK also constructs modern versions of customary Mawa masks. Traditionally Mawa masks, worn by descendants of Ay Waii of Badu Island in powerful ceremonial performances, these masks were created from the shells of Hawksbill turtles.

ALICK’s contemporary creations are innovative both in variation from traditional style and use of fibreglass to replicate turtle carapace. With a backdrop of heavenly island landscapes, the film goer visits ALICK’s home community Wakaydh Mudhawlag (Wakaydh Village) on Badu Island. At the Badhulgaw Kuthinaw Mudh (Badu Island Art Centre) local artists create linocut prints, setting the atmosphere for Alick to explain why it is vitally important to guard the knowledge and protocols of the extraordinary and intricate culture of the Torres Strait Islands.

In recognition of Alick Tipoti’s cultural leadership and his skill as an artist this film has been adapted for the Torres Strait Islander Gallery, National Museum of Australia, Canberra and forms part of the gallery’s permanent exhibition about Torres Strait Islander culture.

Journalist NICOLAS ROTHWELL describes ALICK:

“At once contemporary and traditional, youthful and steeped in the past, instinctual and possessed of analytic rigour, TIPOTI is a man suspended between distinct cultures and reflective realms. The upshot is a new kind of Islander art, modern in its techniques, rich in customary knowledge, replete with veiled, half-submerged themes”.

This is a documentary for broadcast, web TV and DVD. The documentary, as a container of knowledge, has strong educational credentials for secondary and tertiary institutions internationally. This film can also be shown by museums and art galleries and at festivals and events in Australia and around the world. Creative cowboy films and artist ALICK TOPOTI wish to inspire young indigenous people with the possibilities that art can bring and to describe a remarkable place with a remarkable history, much of which remains unknown to mainland Australia.

PETER HYLANDS says:

“This is both a powerful and visually compelling documentary, once more describing the extraordinary skills of Australia’s Indigenous people. In our films we wish to provide people in Australia and elsewhere in the world with a window into the lives and practices of indigenous people.

In Australia, these films build knowledge and understanding of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander cultures as we work with some of the most skilful and outstanding individuals in the indigenous world. We encourage young people to engage with these films, closing the gap for future generations.

In his film, ALICK speaks about his responsibilities in communicating his culture to the world, his leadership will inspire younger generations of Torres Strait Islanders and beyond to be immensely proud of their cultures. In one way ALICK will provide a framework that encourages new paths to creativity and learning, the development of skills and the guardianship of cultural heritage including language”.