Badu Art Centre





Badhulgaw Kuthinaw Mudh (Badu Art Centre), one of Australia's newest Indigenous art centres, is home to an exciting group of young, emerging artists from Badu Island in the Torres Straits. The focus of the Centre is to enable the expression and renewal of Badu Island cultural practices and to preserve and promote arts, crafts and culture while providing skills and training to local Torres Strait Islanders. While Badu Island has a history of producing internationally recognised artists such as Alick Tipoti and Dennis Nona, for many of the young artists represented by the new art centre, the Cairns Indigenous Art Fair in August 2011 will be the first time their work has been exhibited publicly. Reflecting their strong cultural traditions, language and links to the sea, Badu artists are producing works using a range of visual and creative mediums including printmaking, etching, painting, jewellery, textiles and carving. Purchasing directly from the art centre ensures authenticity and provenance of the artwork. All artworks have a certificate of authenticity that explains the cultural significance of the work and includes a unique catalogue number, as well as a biography of the artist. The art centre has a legal obligation to document and catalogue all artworks to ensure protection of the artists' intellectual property rights. The art centre's legal status is an Indigenous Corporation registered in December 2009 with the Office of the Registrar of Indigenous Corporations (ORIC) under the Corporations (Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander) Act 2006 (CATSI Act). The Indigenous Corporation Number (ICN) is 7302 and the Australian Business Number (ABN) is 40 522 947 582. The art centre is committed to best practice governance, accountability and transparent operations and uses a number of systems to ensure open access to information and status of operations. The Corporation gratefully receives generous support from the Torres Strait Islands Regional Council, Torres Strait Regional Authority, Queensland Government and Australian Government.


Printmaking as an immediately recognisable form of cultural expression in the Torres Strait Islands.


The last decade has seen printmaking, specifically linocuts, arguably become one of the most recognisable visual forms of cultural expression in the remote islands of the Torres Straits.

Unknown as a medium in the region until pioneered in the early 1990s by young Badu artists, Dennis Nona and Alick Tipoti, many family homes and community buildings on the Island are adorned with their early works. Intricate linocuts of bold black imagery with detailed background patterning, are immediately recognisable as being distinctly Torres Strait Islander, not only by the art market, but also by remote islanders - everyone from young children to community elders.

This proliferation was, until recently, limited to works created in urban centres on the mainland and the neighbouring Mua island, where an art centre dedicated to printmaking was established 10 years ago but as is often the case in remote areas lacking resources, became dormant with the departure of key personnel - firstly Dennis Nona then Billy Missi.

With recent government investment, the humble printing press is now found on many of the small islands with local artists developing skills to print their own work. New community art centres have emerged on Badu Island and Mua, reopening its doors with a dedicated manager, adding to the existing art centre in the Eastern islands on Erub.

This panel discussion seeks to understand why, how and when contemporary Torres Strait Island printmaking became recognisable and so readily accepted into island life. It explores how printmaking has changed the lives of the talented artists and whether, after 20 years, the medium will further develop, providing opportunities for existing and emerging artists, or stagnate and eventually lead into the development of other artforms. A further point of discussion is the influence of traditional culture on printmaking and conversely, the less obvious impact of printmaking on traditional culture.

The discussion will draw on Alick’s experiences, guided early by respected printmaker Anna Eglitis through the Cairns College of Technical and Further Education, his continued education, memorable visit to the Cambridge University in 2000 and his expending career as a professional Torres Strait Islander artist.

Other panel members include Dr Sally Butler, Senior Lecturer in Art History, School of English Media Studies & Art History, University of Queensland and Dr Ian McNiven, Anthropolgist, School of Geography & Environmental Science, Faculty of Arts, Monash University.


Friday 30 September


1:30pm - 3.00pm



Alick Tipoti - Badu artist

“My art is based on legends of the Torres Strait where I depict my interpretations of the land, the sea, the sky, and the many different living creatures and spirits that exist here in the Torres Strait - as with other artists, I use my art as an educational tool, teaching people about important cultural events, practices and beliefs from the past... People speak highly of me nationally and internationally but I remind them that I am only a part of a group of artists known as Torres Strait Islanders,” Mr Tipoti said.

DR Ian

Dr Ian J. McNiven

Dr Ian J. McNiven is digging in support of Australian Aboriginal, Torres Strait Islander, and Papua New Guinean communities - with international ramifications. His work is changing understandings of Aboriginal society and what it was like before Europeans got here.
One of Ian’s largest undertakings has been in far north Queensland, where he has helped Torres Strait Islanders with the world’s largest native title claim over the sea. 
“I was the archaeological expert witness.  I was requested to provide detailed background documentation about who Torres Strait Islanders were in the past to assist Justice Paul Finn of the Federal Court of Australia make assessments of the degree of cultural continuity between current generations of Torres Strait Islanders and their ancestors.”


Dr Sally Butler – art critic - Senior Lecturer in Art History.

Sally Butler took up the position as lecturer in Art History at the University of Queensland in 2004 after a period as Art History lecturer at the Australian National Univeristy in Canberra. Visual arts industry experience includes working for the Queensland Art Gallery and a number of freelance curating projects, and several years as Associate Editor of Australian Art Collector magazine. Sally regularly writes for Australian visual arts magazines, maintaining a particular interest in contemporary Australian art, Australian indigenous art and new media art.
Her research interests include cross-cultural critical theory, Australian Indigenous art, Australian contemporary art, photography and new media art. Current research includes: includes Indigenous art from Far North Queensland, Virtual Reality theory and photography, contemporary Queensland photography, and art and cultural tourism.




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