'I’ve taken the images of my work from last year, my bamboo maps, and worked with print maker Jo Lankester to turn these three dimensional works into two dimensional prints. The image itself is Tagai – the constellation system that we use to navigate through the Torres Straits. When the hand of Tagai touches the horizon, that means it is time to go hunting. When Tagai is in the sky in a particular way, this represents the different seasons, telling us when to plant and harvest things like taros and yams, plus when the turtles are mating etc. Each of us also have our own Tagai in the sky, our own star that we make our own path to, that takes us on our own journey. I am following my own Tagai.' — Gail Mabo
Gail Mabo is a multidisciplinary artist working across sculpture, installation, printmaking and painting. Her artistic career commenced in 1979 with local Townsville Dance troupe ‘New Blood Dance Troupe’ which was founded by Shane and Bronwyn Williams. Gail was part of this 15 strong Indigenous contemporary dance troupe for 4 years; her involvement in this group encouraged her to pursue training through an accredited dance school, which she applied for and was accepted. In 1983 she enrolled into the National Aboriginal and Islander Dance Academy (NAISDA) formerly known as the Aboriginal and Islander Dance Theatre (AIDT) in Sydney. Gail attended the Aboriginal and Islander Dance Theatre for four years which provided a foundation for traditional and contemporary movement, which established appropriate protocols and traditional dance techniques for both the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander cultural dance practices. During this time Gail also toured with the Dance Theatre throughout New South Wales as well as nationally and to the remote Indigenous communities within Australia.
Currently, Gail is a founding member of Murris in Ink (MII), a group of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Island printmakers who live and work in the Townsville region. The artist group works from Umbrella Studio who has been developing the artist group’s skills as printmakers since 2008 through a series of master classes, workshops and artist residencies. MII exhibited work as a group in the first inaugural Cairns Indigenous Art Fair in 2009 and each Fair through to 2014. Gail Mabo and Vicki Salisbury (then Umbrella Studio Contemporary Arts Director) co-wrote a paper documenting the work of Murris in Ink printmakers titled, Visual Vibrancy, How Do We Get Some? This paper was presented at the James Cook University Symposium during CIAF 2010 and published as a best practice model on the Arts Queensland website. In 2010 Gail was the recipient of a New Flames Artist Residency in Cairns.
Gail Mabo was honoured in 2017 by the Cairns Indigenous Art Fair as the chosen featured artist. Her work was collected at the fair by the National Gallery of Victoria. Mabo then won the Innovation Award prize for the same work which honoured her father and their country – Mer Island, in celebration of 25 years of the Mabo decision in the High Court of Australia. Eddie was also honoured this year by having a star named after him – Koiki.
Her most recent exhibition, House of Cards, mined her personal and emotional archive to speak to the socio-political climate of three generations of powerful Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders. Craftsmanship, education, and the pursuit of intellectual capital both Indigenous and NonIndigenous were reified in this major installation, an ode to her parents, Eddie ‘Kioki’ and Bonita Mabo - their lives and Knowledge. In 2018 she co-curated an exhibition, Legacy: Reflections on Mabo. This exhibition premiered in Townsville her hometown and is on a four year Australian tour. Her work is held in numerous collections including that of the National Gallery of Victoria, Art Gallery of New South Wales and Queensland Art Gallery | Gallery of Modern Art – Queensland.
Materials: Three Colour Plate Etching
Dimensions: 30cm (h) x 18cm (w)
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