Alick TIPOTI, Aralpaia Ar Zenikula. Enlarge 1 /1


Kala Lagaw Ya people

Waiben (Thursday Island), Torres Strait Islands, Queensland, Australia born 1975

Aralpaia Ar Zenikula. 1998 Title Notes: 11, 17B Out
Place made: Canberra, Australian Capital Territory, Australia
Materials & Technique: prints, ink; paper linocut, printed in black ink, from one block Support: paper

Dimensions: printed image 67.0 h x 100.0 w cm sheet 77.0 h x 112.0 w cm
Acknowledgement: Purchased 1999
Accession No: NGA 99.24
  • Purchased by the National Gallery of Australia, from Canberra School of Art, Canberra, April 1999.

Over the past decade, Torres Strait artists have increasingly produced many prints, especially linocuts, where the traditional carving techniques of their forefathers have been revived utilising contemporary media. The establishment of art centres in remote communities, and courses designed for Indigenous artists at TAFEs and universities have encouraged this art production. Alick Tipoti followed a well-trodden route when he studied first at Tropical North Queensland Institute of TAFE and then the Canberra School of Art. In these contemporary prints, many traditional stories are being re-told, often of the period before the arrival of the Christian missionaries.

Aralpaia Ar Zenikula depicts a traditional story from Alick’s home island of Badu; it tells a tale of land ownership which resulted in conflict and bloodshed. As Alick Tipoti notes:

I get my inspiration from the ancient artefacts of the Torres Strait … and from the traditional stories handed down and recorded by my father and the recognised elders of Torres Strait.

Land ownership was of great significance to headhunters in the Torres Strait back in the old days. This story is one that occurred before the London Missionaries brought Christianity to the islands of the Torres Strait in 1871, which is known to us as the ‘Coming of the Light’. Today, a pig hunter can hunt wherever he chooses on the islands without fearing to lose his life to another warrior. In the past a hunter on land would be risking his life hunting outside his boundary. This land which Aralpaia and Zenikula occupied is located on Badu (Mulgrave Island) in the Torres Strait, and the sacred location is very significant to me and my father because the name Tipoti, which we carry, is originally from Badu. Still to this day people on this island view us as one of the very few natives of this island.1

Alick Tipoti (2001) and Roger Butler

1Alick Tipoli, in Roger Butler (ed.), Islands in the Sun: Prints by Indigenous artists of Australia and the Australasian region, Canberra: National Gallery of Australia, 2001, pp.33-36

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