Sea Swift supports world-first Indigenous arts exhibition

Torres Strait Islander artists have teamed up with northern Australia shipping company Sea Swift for a world-first exhibition at the Australian National Maritime Museum in Sydney.

Fourteen artists from Erub Arts have their work featured in the Ghost Nets of the Ocean collection – or Au Karem Ira Lamar Lu – which opened earlier this month.

Sea Swift provided freight support and sponsorship through the Sid Faithfull and Christine Sadler program supporting contemporary Indigenous maritime heritage in Far North Queensland and the Torres Strait Islands.

Lynnette Griffiths, Art Development and Exhibitions Manager at Erub Arts, said the artwork is the largest single collection of ghost nets in the world.

"On behalf of the manager and artists of Erub Arts, we would like to thank Sea Swift very much for the support they have shown us, especially with the contribution to making the purchase of works in Ghost Nets of the Ocean in Sydney.

"Myself and two artists from the group, along with another of our non-Indigenous collaborators, hung the show in Sydney, and I do think it is amazing.

"It's thanks to Sea Swift that we have been able to transport it off our remote island, so it could travel all over the world.

"Our next mission is to get ourselves to London for a commercial show. We look forward to strengthening and maintaining our partnership with Sea Swift."

Re-purposing an environmental problem, Erub Arts has been working with ghost nets since 2010.

From a practical beginning with largely utilitarian objects such as bags, Erub Arts is now recognised for large scale collaborative installations featuring marine animals that are found on the reefs and in the deep water which surrounds Erub.

Ninety per cent of the marine debris entering the coastal regions of northern Australia is of a fishing nature and originates from all parts of South East Asia. The ghost nets (abandonded fishing nets) drift aimlessly indiscriminately killing as they travel with the ocean currents, and 80 per cent of this catch is marine turtles.

The collection and disposal of ghost nets has also become a huge logistical problem as the areas of Australia that are affected are sparsely inhabited by Indigenous people living in communities.

The Ghost Net Movement world wide is rapidly expanding, striving to generate awareness, recycling and sustainability options that will rid the world’s oceans of ghost nets.

Erub (Darnley Island) is the most north-eastern of the Torres Strait Islands, and home to approximately 400 Erubam le (Erub people) whose seafaring heritage has traditions of elaborately decorated canoes, carved stone, intricate dance costumes, and weaponry.

Erub Arts' vision is to maintain a strong Erubian identity and to promote its culture in a contemporary way through art.

Erub Arts showcases works that use traditional and modern mediums, and are informed by historical stories from pre-contact, first contact and missionary contact, alongside contemporary stories about living culture, the land, sea and sky.

For more information about the Ghost Nets of the Ocean exhibit, visit www.anmm.gov.au/whats-on/exhibitions/ghost-nets-of-the-ocean

For a Sydney Morning Herald story on the exhibit, visit www.smh.com.au/environment/sustainability/very-surprised-a-substantial-change-is-under-way-at-the-maritime-museum-20180905-p501z1.html

Image courtesy of Lynnette Griffiths and Erub Arts

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