Ken Thaiday Snr.

Cairns QLD
  • Frigat Bird with Darnley Island (Erub)  2014
    Head dress: black painted timber on metal head piece, nylon thread, elastic
    Dimensions: 52 x 89 x 40 cm
    Courtesy of the artist
Photography: Mick Richards
  • Erub Darnley Island Hibiscus (or Kowam)  2014
    Dance machine: painted timber, 
poly pipe, nylon thread, cable ties
    Dimensions: (open) 27 x 94 x 36 cm (closed) 13 x 94 x 36 cm
    Courtesy of the artist
Photography: Mick Richards
  • Whaleboat  2014
    Painted timber, twine, cloth, metal hooks
    Dimensions: 30 x 64 x 25 cm
    Courtesy of the artist
Photography: Mick Richards
  • Erub with the Morning Star  2014
    Dance machine: painted poly pipe, timber, nylon thread, cable ties, beads
    Dimensions: 40 x 95 x 40 cm (open)
    15 x 78 x 15 cm (closed)
    Courtesy of the artist
    Photography: Mick Richards

This artwork tells about the olden days and they are going to row this boat. It is all about the sea, before time. The boat used to come to Torres Strait; we would carry cargo on our shoulder, from the saltwater, the rock wharf. Then we had to pick up everything before the tide comes in. If you don’t have people to pick up the cargo, then everything gets wet.

We had a boat like this, take the cargo in, then row back and pick up some more. All about the sea and nothing about the land. I can tell a story about what I do, but nothing else.

My work is all about fishing. If you look at my artwork, it is all about fishing. I love fishing. Even in Cairns, I fish all the time here too. I know how to catch fish. I had to shift my dinghy; I keep it at my brother–in–law’s place ’cause if I touch that dinghy I would never do artwork. If I got a dinghy in my backyard, you would not see me here, the artwork would stay and I would be on the saltwater.

I went to museums all around America. They showed me all around Washington DC. All the museums, they are huge. I have to make myself strong when looking at artefacts like that. It is better they stay and they look after them. I am happy for that. I say if somebody brought this here to be looked after, then it should stay here. Nothing spoiled with these things. The rope is very old; I suppose if you touched and tried to bend it, it would snap. So I wear gloves and I just pick it up and put it back down. I saw a very old bow and arrow, old spears and everything. I went into this room to look around and I said, wow, look at all these artefacts, been there for years – many, many years. I am thinking way back when I see that old artwork. The different ways they did it, the different materials. I can do it now with different material that looks exactly the same as they had then.

I like to work with bamboo. I love bamboo, ’cause I know what to do. I can bend, I can cut and I can clean it. If you don’t know how to work with bamboo, don’t work with bamboo, ’cause you are going to end having to buy ten packets of Band–Aids. You need to watch the edge of the bamboo when you split it. If you slip, it will cut your fingers. You have to hold it tight. If your knife is not sharp, you will drag the bamboo. The bamboo has sharp edges, both sides.

Ken Thaiday
Cairns, 19 March 2013

This project is assisted by the Australian Government through the Australia Council for the Arts, its arts funding and advisory body

Ken Thaiday Snr, 2014
Photography: Michael Aird