'Naive' watercolours fill style gap in Torres Strait art tradition

segarpassi-fishwithcapBetween 1967 and 1972, a group of untrained artists from the Torres Strait produced a series of watercolours that now sit in the State Library of Queensland and featured recently in the library's exhibition Strait Home. The works were first displayed forty years ago in the publication of island stories Myths and Legends of Torres Strait - compiled by the self-taught chronicler of islander culture Margaret Lawrie.

The Australian Indigenous art scene has been dominated by such luminaries in naive art styles as the late Ian Abdulla from South Australia, Pantjiti Mary McLean of the Ngaatjatjarra people of the Western Desert, and the late Ginger Riley Munduwalawala of the Mara people of the Northern Territory, as well as the late HJ Wedge from New South Wales. Therefore, it is now time for the artists represented in the Margaret Lawrie Works on Paper Collection to be afforded a degree of recognition as meaningful contributors to the historical landscape of Australian art.

In this essay, the curator of Strait Home, Tom Mosby, argues that these 'naive' paintings now deserve due recognition, situated between the traditional sculpture of pre-contact times and new works of trained contemporary artists who are making a name for themselves in galleries around the world.

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