Pormpuraaw Art Center and Brian Robinson


Australia: Defending the Ocean was an exhibition at the Charles L. Brown Science and Engineering Library of UVA. The exhibition, which was installed in the Library’s reading room, highlighted the ecological disaster created by abandoned and discarded fishing “ghost nets” off the coast of northeastern Australia. A by-product of the commercial fishing industry, ghost nets drift on the ocean currents, trapping a rich array of marine life and suffocating coral reefs. Aboriginal artists from Pormpuraaw, Queensland have begun harvesting ghost nets and turning them into delightful sculptures of marine life to raise awareness about the environmental threat of litter in the ocean. Also included were three prints and an aluminum sculpture of a stingray by Brian Robinson. The sculpture, Ocean Guardian, represents the creation story of the Great Barrier Reef and is covered in minaral, the distinctive graphic patterns of Torres Strait art. In his linocut prints, Robinson draws on his Torres Strait Islander heritage and traditional art historical and pop culture imagery. This exhibition was first on view at the United Nations during The Ocean Conference in June 2017. It was presented by Pormpuraaw Art and Culture Center, Arts d’Australie, Suzanne O’Connell Gallery and Onespace Gallery.

About the Art Center and Artist

Pormpuraaw Art Center is a non-profit dedicated to assisting community artists and maintaining cultural traditions. 

Brian Robinson is a Maluyliga, Wuthathi and Malaysia Dayak artist who lives and works in Cairns. He is a painter, printmaker, sculptor and designer who combines his Torres Strait Islander heritage with a strong passion for experimentation, both in theoretical approach and medium, as well as crossing the boundaries between reality and fantasy. He has completed internships with the National Museum of Australia and the National Gallery of Australia, was Deputy Director of Cairns Regional Gallery for some years, and his work has been collected widely in private and public collections in Australia and overseas.