Gail Mabo honours father through art

An exhibition of art by Gail Mabo honouring her late father and land rights pioneer Eddie Koiki Mabo is to be unveiled at the Cairns Indigenous Art Fair next month.

Ms Mabo’s six-part installation of photographs of the night sky and hand-woven navigational ropes is a personal tribute to her father and his connection to the land, sky and sea.

“I was inspired by the fact that two years ago Sydney Observatory named a star after dad for his contribution to land rights,” Ms Mabo said.

Mr Mabo’s star sits in the heart of Australia’s Southern Cross and the Torres Strait Islander constellation of Tagai.

Ms Mabo said in Torres Strait Islander culture, stars were important for navigation and time keeping.

“Tagai guides us, tells us when it’s time to plant, to harvest, when turtles are mating and the best time to collect seafood,” she said.

Ms Mabo’s exhibition includes a woven series of ropes using coconut fibre with shells collected from her father’s Mer Island homeland. Imagery from NASA shows Koiki’s position in the sky.

“When Pacific Islanders travelled between islands they would use these ropes with knots, bamboo and shells to guide them through changing ocean currents,” she said.

Ms Mabo’s exhibition will occupy a wall of Cairns Cruise Liner Terminal’s shed three and form part of CIAF’s Family Values exhibition on July 14-16.

Ms Mabo will speak about her father at CIAF on July 14 at 9.30am and again at her stand in the Art Fair on July 15 at 10.30am.

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