“I had a very good experience with all the students… It was my first time teaching and my first time teaching wood-carving. The passion they showed was a good experience for me, because I’ve never had it with my own people since I have never taught before.” - DAVID BOSUN
Using the medium of linoleum and woodblock printmaking, Ngau Gidthal (My Stories) illustrated the ancestral traditions of the Mualgal people. These traditions range from seasonal indicators used in ancient hunting practices to the significance of the constellations within the celestial sphere. In 2000, Bosun was chosen by elders as one of four artists to begin recording stories in the form of printmaking. This marked the first time that traditional stories took visual form since the loss of their material culture to missionaries and collectors a century earlier. Known for its strong figurative imagery and intricate design, or minaral, Bosun’s work reflects Melanesian influences inspired through longstanding trade between Torres Strait Islanders and coastal Papua New Guineans. This exhibition was presented in partnership with Australia Council for the Arts, the Embassy of Australia, Ngalmun Lagau Minaral Art Centre, Australian Art Print Network, Maria T. Kluge, John and Barbara Wilkerson, Wilkerson Family Charitable Lead Trust, UVA McIntire Department of Art, the Dance Program of the UVA Department of Drama, the UVA Department of Astronomy and Friends of McCormick Observatory.
David Bosun was a resident artist in September 2013. The highlight of Bosun’s residency was the creation of a traditional ceremonial pole, which was carved over three weeks in collaboration with UVA sculpture students taught by Professor William Bennett. Several weeks before Bosun’s arrival in Charlottesville, a 200-year old pecan tree on the museum’s property was cut down, providing the wood for this sculpture. The tree was believed to have been planted by Thomas Jefferson, who owned the property during his lifetime. On the first day of carving, with chisels and mallets in hand, Bosun poignantly noted that he and the students were “making history with history.” Bosun discussed the breadth of his sculpture and print practice in an artist talk, and guest-lectured at a number of university courses in the disciplines of studio art (printmaking), dance, anthropology and art history. He also delivered a lecture, Moa Stars, Moa Stories: Astronomy from a Torres Strait Perspective, at UVA’s McCormick Observatory and performed a traditional Mualgal dance at the Kluge-Ruhe’s signature summer event, Night at the Museum.
About the Artist
David Bosun is a Mualgal printmaker and woodcarver from Moa Island in the Torres Strait. His interest in the visual arts began at age 4, when he first began practicing traditional dancing and singing. In 1996, he attended Cairns Technical and Further Educational Institute, and is a founding member of Mualgau Minaral Artist Collective. His work was included in “Gelam Nguzu Kazi (Dugong My Son),” which was the first touring exhibition of artwork from Moa Island.