2015, Linocut on paper, 81.5cm (h) x 76.5cm (w)
The story of the Tagai constellation is rooted in the mythology of Tagai, Kareg and his crew of twelve out spearing fish. It is said that Tagai and his crew came from the Australian mainland and some suggest he came from Western Torres Strait. While Tagai was out spearing fish away from the canoe, his crew got hot and dehydrated and needed to drink water, but they were told by Tagai not to, but to save it for the right time to drink.
Swimming in the sea did not cool the crew's thirst, so they drank the water. When Tagai returned he saw the water containers were empty, he was furious and in his rage killed his crew, except Kareg. As the crew were spirit beings they could not be killed so Tagai banished the crew to the northern and southern hemispheres. Size of the crew he skewered, they became Usiam, the six stars of the western constellations, Pleiades. Six he put on a seg (a seg is anything hung in line on a string) and they became Seg, the six stars of the western constellation, Orion.
Having toured regional Queensland 2016-2018, Ad Wer: Story of the Stars from Eastern Torres Strait presented a body of linocut print works by Tommy Pau. The artist examined constellations used by the Eastern Islanders of the Torres Strait and their science of astronomy.
The methodology of the Torres Strait Islanders has been careful observation over thousands of years. Each observation recorded and etched into their memories, like experiences passed down orally to the next generation. The Islanders compare these natural seasonal timestamp changes so they are able to predict future planning for agriculture and hunting.
Tommy Pau is descendent of the Eastern Torres Strait Islands, his heritage is Australian Aboriginal, Papua New Guinea, Pacific Islander and Asian. He was born in Townsville, North Queensland and lived there as an infant before relocating to Brisbane, Thursday Island, Waiben and Cairns. Pau considers himself an artist who is Indigenous, not as an Indigenous artist. His wide ranging professional practice includes sculpture, carving, printmaking, installation work, digital and multimedia, and anything that grabs his interest. He also writes poetry.
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