Dennis Nona Baidam - Shark Constellation 2006
Linocut Paper: 1080 x 2530mm, Framed: 1255 x 2703mm
Baidam translated is "shark". This artwork is about a constellation of stars (Zugubau Thithuyial). This constellation consists of seven stars, which the Aboriginal people call the Seven Sisters. My people call it the shark constellation. The stars were used for navigation. They also provide knowledge about the seasons and for gardening fruit and vegetables. In about July/August the shark constellation will level itself across the horizon of New Guinea. At seven or eight o'clock you will see it parallel to New Guinea. At this time the wind drops. Around this time we begin planting vegetables and fruit: Cassava, Dawai (banana), Guru (sugar cane), Taro /Urrgubau (sweetpotato). Those are the main ones planted when the shark lies across the horizon. When it becomes calm in the Torres Strait, around this time, a grease forms on the surface of the sea. I have shown this in the artwork. The grease is called "Baidam aw id" - "when the shark liver has melted on the sea". At this time it is also sharkmating season: a dangerous time in the sea. The shark constellation rotates throughout the year. In February, when you see the stars beginning to shine, that's the shark.