AUSTRALIA: Defending the Oceans at the Heart of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Island Art was a major survey of contemporary artworks by Aboriginal and Torres Strait islander artists hosted in the world-renowned Oceanographic Museum of Monaco in Europe in 2016. The exhibition, “Taba Naba – Australia, Oceania, Arts of the Sea People” (4 March to 30 September 2016) comprised works by 50 artists from across Australia’s east and north coasts and filled the Museum’s three floors including the rooftop terrace where a 670 square meter installation will be seen against a spectacular backdrop of Monaco and the Mediterranean Sea.
The project curated by Stéphane Jacob-Langevin AM (GALERIE ARTS D AUSTRALIE) and Suzanne O’Connell (Suzanne O’Connell Gallery) enabled high profile Australian artists to present work in Monaco for the first time including Alick Tipoti of Badu (‘Mulgrave Island’), Brian Robinson of Waiben (‘Thursday Island’), and Sydney artist Jason Christopher who worked with Ken Thaiday Snr of Erub (‘Darnley Island’). A number of artists from remote communities also presented works, including Girringun Aboriginal Art Centre (North Queensland), Erub Arts (Torres Strait, Queensland), Pormpuraaw Art Centre (Cape York, Queensland) and Ceduna Arts and Cultural Centre South Australia (South Australia).
We worked with Brian Robinson to create a contemporary installation of Malu Githalayl (Ocean Crabs) featured on the historic museum’s façade. Utilising the traditional incised design seen in Torres Strait Islander lino prints, Robinson created three vibrantly colourful crabs, titled Malu Githala, with each crab (or githalai) exploring the symbols of Robinson’s ancestral connections to the coastal fauna found through the regions’ mangrove areas, foreshore, estuaries, and outer barrier reef.
We were proud to see the remarkable and innovative work of Brian Robinson and the other artists in this groundbreaking exhibition. This exhibition allowed the stories of our First Nations artists to speak directly to European audiences.