Brothers Brett Aniba and Vincent Babia use lino printing to reinvent the stories of their ancestors on Saibai Island. Both Arts Support workers at the NPA Arts Centre, they work alongside fellow local indigenous artsists to not only maintain theirculture, but help it to grow.
“We are always looking for new ways to tell our cultural stories,” says Brett, “our fathers and grandfathers traditionally used water colour for their artworks, but we want to find new methods to keep the stories alive and make them proud.
“We grew up with our grandfathers and uncles telling stories through song, dance and art. We would watch them carving and water painting, telling Saibai tribal stories passed down through generations.
“This is why through my own artwork I continue to pass on the stories of our ancestors. Though our fathers and grandfathers have lived on the mainland, Saibai Island is our heritage; it is where the bodies of our great ancestors are buried, it is where their spirits are, it is still our home.”
Vincent says that with each piece created, they are telling a story about their ancestors or way of life on their island home.
“We know the names of the winds, the stars and the seas. We know how, when and where to hunt. We know where the spirits live and we know the language to speak to them.”
Though lino carving is not a traditionally used art meduim, traditional designs tranfer easily to the new technique. This may be due to the srtong wood carving background of many indigenous cultures says Vincent.
The prints, in start clack and white or with features colours, are visually stunning, drawing the viewer into the depths of the story.