Dennis Nona

(Australia 1973 – )

Badu Island, Torres Strait region
Language group
Kala Lagaw Ya, Torres Strait region

Gapu Dhangal

Not on display
Further information

Dennis Nona's traditional wood carving skills can be glimpsed in the intricate detail of his prints. There are distinct Melanesian influences in his designs which come from the close ties Torres Strait Islanders have with the coastal peoples of Papua New Guinea to the north. Traditionally drums and other items of material culture are obtained from Papua New Guinea and the designs decorating these objects have been absorbed into Islander culture. Nona's printmaking becomes a form of cultural maintenance through art. Nona's cultural heritage, learnt through storytelling and ceremonies, helped him develop his linocut skills which feature an intricate decorative style based on the rich narrative legends of the Torres Strait Islander people.

Gapu Dhangal means Sucker Fish and Dugong in western Torres Strait language. This is one of the traditional ways of hunting for dugongs in the western Torres Strait Islands. A rope made out of coconut fibres is tied to the Sucker Fish and then released into the water where the hunters know the Dugong are feeding. The Sucker Fish attaches itself to the Dugong, and then the hunters follow the Dugong until it is weak and finally the hunters harpoon it.

© Australian Art Department, Art Gallery of New South Wales, 2005

Place of origin
Brisbane, Queensland, Australia
two-colour etching, blue and brown ink on white BFK Rives paper
50.0 x 32.0 cm platemark; 76.0 x 57.0 cm sheet 18.0 x 61.0 cm platemark; 57.0 x 76.0 cm sheet
Purchased with funds provided by the Aboriginal Collection Benefactors' Group 2005
Accession number