Custodian of the blooms, 2014 is the third wall installation created from the iconic bloom series that extends my investigation into the cultural narratives and traditional customs of the Zenadh Kes Islanders. Across every island in the Torres Strait, flowering and fruiting trees line the streets and surround the communities, growing wild or in garden pots. Hibiscus, frangipani, bougainvillea, coconut, beach almond, mango, banana and even wongai, to name a few, bear garlands and fruit year round. Skill in gardening is dependent on understanding of the four seasons - Kuki (north-west winds), Sager (south-east trade winds), Zey (southerly winds) and Naigai (northerly winds) - including knowledge of the movement of stars, constellations, tidal patterns, and migration of birds and sea creatures. Agricultural fertility also entails a respect for inherited ancestral land and knowledge of how to influence rainfall and the growth of plants through actions, words, songs and the use of figures and stones.

Written by artist Brian Robinson. This text first appeared in the 2017 Tarnanthi Catalogue.

Your Turn

Create your own paper sculpture bloom. What plants, flowers or trees bloom in different seasons where you live?

Step 1

Find some images to use as reference for your sculpture. These might just be as inspiration for colour, shape or pattern. We have been inspired by the colours of the Jacaranda tree, yellow wattle (Acacia pycnantha) and the lilly pilly fruit (riberry) as well as the shape of an agave leaf.

Step 2

Select 3 – 4 different sheets of coloured paper. Draw and cut out a large organic shape on one of your sheets of paper. Experiment with drawing other simple shapes to layer on top of your base shape.

Step 3

Experiment with different techniques like curling, tearing or fringing the paper to create interesting details.

Step 4

Layer your sculpture with different coloured shapes. By including layers that have a variety of shapes and textures will give your work of art height.

Step 5

Once you are happy with your composition, glue each layer - one at a time. You might like to add some final details like we did here with the thin strips of pink and black paper.