Ken THAIDAY SNR., Hammerhead shark mask Enlarge 1 /2
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Ken THAIDAY SNR.

Meriam Mer people

Erub (Darnley) Island, Torres Strait Island, Queensland born 1950

Hammerhead shark mask [Shark mask] 1997 Description: A shark mask constructed from natural and synthetic material in two parts.The top section depicts a shark made from black bamboo and the bottom section depicts only the jaws of the shark with attached feathers.
Place made: Cairns, Queensland, Australia
Materials & Technique: sculptures, bamboo, plywood, wood, feathers, wire, synthetic cord, enamel paint, plastic

Dimensions: 87.0 h x 60.0 w x 110.0 d cm
Acknowledgement: Purchased 1997
Accession No: NGA 97.1371

Cultural tradition and personal history are embedded in Ken Thaiday’s elaborate dance masks. Thaiday says all his dance masks are intended to be used, though some of his larger pieces would tax the athleticism of the most proficient male dancers. Traditionally unique to the Torres Strait, the masks are worn in dances to align the spiritual and natural worlds. Thaiday’s imagination bridges their contemporary appeal as static sculptures, in which the masks’ entrée to fantasy can be appreciated by all.

Thaiday grew up on Erub (Darnley Island), drawing and taking part in ceremonial life with his father, Tat, a leading dancer. In the late 1980s Thaiday formed a dance troupe in mainland Cairns, choreographing, dancing, designing and making the dance masks and hand-held implements.

The beizam (shark) masks, based on a family totem, are his best known works. In dance performances they are mobile. The pulleys allow the shark profile to move from side to side while the mouth may open and close, imitating the hammerhead shark swimming and feeding. The white feathery plumes suggest the breaking foam. The use of pulleys is thought to have been learnt from clipper ships moving through the Torres Strait, one of many cultural influences in the islands. Originally made from natural materials, Thaiday incorporates plywood and wire and replaces real shark teeth with plastic cut-outs in his masks. These innovations add to the lightness of the pieces, yet their structure conveys the totemic subject’s strength and their mobility implies the dancers’ agility and coordination.

Steve Miller


Text © National Gallery of Australia, Canberra 2010
From: Franchesca Cubillo and Wally Caruana (eds) Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Art: collection highlights National Gallery of Australia, Canberra, 2010

Historically, dari (headdresses) were worn by men during warfare; today, they are worn during dance ceremonies. Ken Thaiday Senior’s reflects the social and historical influences in the Torres Strait. The shark is the artist’s totem and represents an affiliation with the sea and wind. The Hammerhead shark mask is a moveable headdress which captures the movements of a shark with its open jaws (bottom) and natural flow of swim (top). The shark’s mouth can be opened and manipulated by the dancer wearing the articulated mask. The use of contemporary materials such as fishing lines to move different parts of the headdress demonstrates an innovative approach towards Torres Strait Island art and culture, and shows how new materials and techniques have evolved in response to changes in the cultural environment. The Hammerhead shark mask is an example of an indigenous culture’s ability to adapt and survive whilst retaining its own separate identity.

Torres Strait Islander art and culture is unique and different to that of Aboriginal Australia; the exploration and promotion of this art and culture has recently come to the forefront in Australia. The Torres Strait Islands have undergone immense social, political, religious and environmental change since contact with Europeans began in the 1800s. These major changes were accepted and adapted, resulting in an evolving culture and enhanced Torres Strait Islander identity. This has influenced the variety of material culture produced, both from artists living in the Torres Strait and from those Torres Strait artists residing on mainland Australia.

Leilani Bin-Juda 2002.


Text © National Gallery of Australia, Canberra 2010
From: Anne Gray (ed), Australian art in the National Gallery of Australia, National Gallery of Australia, Canberra, 2002

老肯•特代 (Ken Thaiday Senior)
《双髻鲨面具》(Hammerhead shark mask)
[鲨鱼面具]
1997年
用天然与合成材料制作而成的鲨鱼面具,分两部分。上半部分是用紫竹制作的鲨鱼,下半部分是附有羽毛的鲨鱼颌。
澳大利亚昆士兰州凯恩斯港
装饰艺术与设计,雕塑、竹子、胶合板、木材、金属丝、合成纤维、珐琅漆、塑料
87.0 (高) x 60.0 (宽) x 110.0 (深)厘米
1997年购买
收录号:NGA 97.1371

肯•特代精心制作的舞蹈面具饱含文化传统与个人史。特代说他所制作的舞蹈面具均倾向于适用器,但即便是最娴熟的男性舞者,一些更大型的面具也是对其运动能力的挑战。面具是托雷斯海峡的传统特色,在舞蹈中佩戴,以贯通精神与自然世界。特代的想象力弥合了他们对静态雕塑的当下诉求,人人都明白面具的通灵之功。

特代在Erub(达恩利岛)长大,跟随著名舞蹈家的父亲塔特(Tat)学习绘画并参加仪式活动。1980年代末,特代在大陆凯恩斯港组建了一支舞蹈队,他设计舞蹈动作,参与舞蹈,设计并制作舞蹈面具和手持舞具。

基于家族图腾的beizam(鲨鱼)面具是他最成名绝技。舞蹈表演中,面具是活动的。滑轮带动鲨鱼从一边移动到另一边,同时嘴巴可开可合,模仿了双髻鲨的游泳和进食。白色的柔软羽状物象征破灭的泡沫。据说,滑轮的使用是从穿梭于托雷斯海峡的快速帆船那里学来的,海峡是影响群岛文化众多的因素之一。最初的面具是用天然材料制作的,特代制作鲨鱼面具的过程中,结合使用了胶合板和金属丝,并用真鲨鱼牙代替了塑料假牙。这些创新使面具更加轻便,然而面具结构传递了图腾主题的力量,其可动性意味着舞者的敏捷和协调性。

Steve Miller
史蒂夫•米勒


Text © National Gallery of Australia, Canberra