THUWAL, SAUDI ARABIA
Torres Strait Islanders’ navigational skills and stellar knowledge were exceptional and paralleled those of the ancient Islamic world’s mariners and astronomers. They are described as having one foot on land and one in the sea. Both Torres Strait Island and Arabian cultures boast a seafaring tradition that encompassed both trading and fishing. The canoes and sails employed by the Torres Strait Islanders were not unlike those of the Arabian dhow.
In collaboration with UAP in Brisbane, Dennis Nona developed Two Brothers based on a traditional legend from his home island of Badu. 7m cast bronze canoe is supported by six paddles, raising it 5 meters above the ground. The patterning and position of two mother-of-pearl stars seen on the sides of the canoe’s hull reflect the strong wind (Sagerr) and soft wind (Nagai).
The placement of the artist’s canoe in front of Al-Marsa (the yacht club) is poetic. Nona’s evocative and spiritual work reminds us of a more spartan existence and traditional ways of living. Most importantly, Nona’s work reminds us of the importance of celebrating the ancient in relation to the contemporary and acknowledging the contribution of indigenous cultures to humanity.