Weres (2014) is constructed from derelict and abandoned fishing nets known as ‘ghost nets’. These fishing nets drift the ocean’s currents, indiscriminately catching and killing marine life, delivering a devastating impact on coastlines and reefs along the north of Australia.
Using a cross–cultural and collaborative model, Erub Arts is leading the way in large sculptural forms constructed using this medium, producing woven, wrapped and twined statements about traditional and contemporary island life.
Weres is a traditional fishing tool used to scoop schooling sardines. Men would wade into the water holding the epi (handle) and with the beating of werir (sardine directors) the sardines would be chased through the opening (kerem pek) into the bamboo scoop.
The supersized scoop speaks not only of traditional practices, but how with the upsizing of boats, fishing gear and nets, the world’s oceans are being scoured by super–trawlers taking everything in their path – this Weres is a stark reminder that the mandate for sustainable, responsible fishing belongs to all people.
The vision of this work highlights the transparent qualities of the ocean as the sardines school, bringing movement to a static display. The Weres has a welded steel frame, wrapped in net. The pek (bamboo slats) which create the sides are remodelled rope.
The colourful cloth drape has been screen–printed with images of tidelines and traditional stone fish traps which surround Erub. The words from a traditional weres song, which is danced at celebrations, sits alongside a circling mass of sardines.
Statement, July 2014
(sung as dancers enter)
Kara kebeli e – e eat aba naba kauare ge
(my small boy come to go around the back)
Koki apekem tup areme
(North West side to scoop sardines)
Nawarinoko au megipelie
(while they’re there close to the beach)
(sung during dance)
Weres were – o – o
Tupmi akemlare ami damelare
(Scoop the sardines and fill the basket)
Tupmi akemlare ami damelare – e – e
Aisare nabakaure wehge – e paitare
(Grab everything and bring to the sandbeach and tip the weres over)
Cultural and Logistic Liaison:
Kapua Gutchen Snr.
Documentation: Jo-Anne Driessens
Courtesy of Erub Arts, Darnley Island
This project has received financial assistance from the Queensland Government through Arts Queensland’s Backing Indigenous Arts program.