Artist: Anne Gela
- Language Group: Kala Lagau Ya
- Born: Kubin (Moa Banks Island)/Torres Strait
- Born: 1953
- Lives: Rockhampton, Queensland
Video of Anne speaking about her language
This print depicts a Torres Strait Islander kuzil (baby) and its kupai (umbilical chord), representing the spiritual and physical attachment a Torres Strait Islander child has to its natural parents and its community. The coconut palm represents the island community the child is connected to. The ring markings that cover the palm from the base to the top represent bloodline generations of that family.
The outer leaves represent the child’s parents, uncles, aunts, brothers, sisters and extended family, part of the community. All of the outer leaves nurture and shelter the young leaf – the child – while it is growing. Everyone is responsible for sharing, caring and upbringing of the child. They do this because if that young shoot is either removed or cut from the centre of the palm, the whole tree will eventually die. In the work, the turtles represent fertility and the dugongs represent motherhood.
Scattered through the isthmus of the Torres Strait, the islands are stepping stones between Cape York, in far north Queensland, and Papua New Guinea. Influences come from both directions. Anne Gela describes herself as ‘just another mother who is fighting for the cultural identity and survival of her children’.
First Nations Fertility prints
This is one of a range of 14 limited edition screen-prints on paper exclusively available through Songlines. The prints have not been exhibited or offered for sale since 1999, the year they were created by eight Indigenous Australian women artists. Images of the prints were used as slides by Fay Nelson, then Director Aboriginal Arts Board, Australia Council, in her keynote address at the landmark Sydney IVF Fertility Conference held at Darling Harbour Conference Centre.
The prints and Dr Nelson’s essay ‘Aboriginal Fertility’ are documented in the conference proceedings published as Towards Reproductive Certainty – Fertility and Genetics beyond 1999 edited by Robert Jansen and David Mortimer with the assistance of Karen Coote, published by The Parthenon Publishing Group.
Provenance: Karen Coote