Remarkable Indigenous artworks from Erub Island in the Torres Strait have wowed London’s art scene and raised awareness of a critical environmental issue, with support from TIQ.
The Caught in the Net exhibition at London’s JGM Gallery featured 49 striking, large-scale works by ‘ghost net’ artists from Erub (Darnley) Island, created using plastic pollution collected from the ocean near their home.
Ghost net artists around the world are taking one of the most harmful types of sea plastic – abandoned fishing nets – and transforming it into bold and colorful installations that highlight the growing problem of ocean waste.
Speaking at the opening, Ms Apelt said the exhibition showcased the vibrant culture and talents of Erub Islanders while also drawing attention to a critical environmental issue.
‘As a Queensland girl who hails from far North Queensland, it gives me great pleasure and is such an honour to welcome the wonderful artists and people of the Erub Islands to London this evening,’ she said.
‘I am delighted to open this magificient exhibition that connects culture and the environment through unique and exceptional creativity.
‘The global campaign against the enormous and harmful impact of ocean plastic waste is brought directly to the forefront through these wonderful marine installations and this growing and hugely respected ghost nets artistic movement.’
The critical and commercial response to the exhibition was extremely positive, with almost half the pieces selling to private and public galleries and collectors, for a total value of around $300,000.
Ms Apelt said this was a very satisfying outcome for both the artists and an ocean charity that would benefit as a result.
‘The UK is the world’s third-largest art market and it’s gratifying to see the appreciation here for unique Indigenous art from Far North Queensland,’ she said.
‘I’d also like to commend JGM Gallery Director Jennifer Guerrini-Maraldi, who has committed to donating 10% of sales to the Blue Marine Foundation, a charity dedicated to creating marine reserves and establishing sustainable models of fishing.’
The exhibition was accompanied on its trip to London by an Erub Arts delegation led by Elder Uncle Walter Lui and artists Lynette Griffith and Marion Gaemers.
Funding from Arts Queensland and the Australia Council for the Arts enabled the delegation to travel to the UK to install the artworks, attend the opening night reception and undertake a study tour in London and Cambridge afterwards.
TIQ supported the exhibition by co-hosting the opening with the Australian High Commission, and promoting the exhibition through its networks, including through a special viewing for TIQ Europe’s ‘Friends of Queensland’ network.
The exhibition ran from 13 June to 17 August.
Promoting Queensland exports is a priority of the Queensland Trade and Investment Strategy 2017–2022.