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Powerful homecoming: Works of the late Billy Missi return to Gab Titui Cultural Centre in touring exhibition

Billy Missi’s family, William Missi and George Bagiri in the exhibition on opening night. Photo Credit: George Serras

As part of the Gab Titui Cultural Centre’s 20th anniversary celebrations, TSRA has supported the homecoming of the late Billy Missi’s works in the retrospective touring exhibition – Billy Missi’n Wakain Thamai.

The return of Billy Missi’s works holds poetic significance, as he was among the Centre’s inaugural exhibiters in 2004 with his debut solo exhibition; Urapun, Muinu Garasar, One in Many.

Billy Missi was more than an artist. Affectionately known to many as Pal’n, he was a proud Maluilgal man, a cultural leader, and a pioneer for the region’s arts industry. He was a co-founder of the Mualgau Minaral Artists Collective’s Art Centre, now known as Moa Arts.

His significant contribution to strengthening Torres Strait Islander cultural expression is exhibited in his masterful works that speak to the important role of visual arts in sharing culture and knowledge.

In a moving opening address on Tuesday 16 April, TSRA Chairperson Napau Pedro Stephen AM reflected on memories of the artist as a forerunner in political, social and economic change for the region.

“I’ve found myself in a privileged place, that I had been able to have known Pal’n very well,” Mr Stephen said.

“The cultural knowledge that only our artists can visually interpret extends beyond the canvas, beyond textiles and beyond the wood.

“They capture the depth of the messages that our Elders have for us to move forward, persevere and succeed.

“I thank Billy Missi for his life-long dedication to sharing culture and knowledge through art, his name will be echoed in the corridors of time,” he said.

Fellow Mabuyag man and cultural leader Gabriel Bani shared words of recognition for the impact Billy Missi had made in his lifetime, referring to Billy as a small brother.

“The exhibition Wakain Thamai translated in English means to think and understand,” Mr Bani said.

“I am very excited to walk into the exhibition and get a glimpse into Billy Missi’s world – our world.

“Through his art, Pal’n will show us that his world was ancient – his works are based on creation stories, philosophies and values carried down from generation to generation,” he said.

Billy Missi’n Wakain Thamai was co-curated with NorthSite, led by their Contemporary Arts Curator Aven Noah Jr, a former Gallery Officer at the Gab Titui Cultural Centre. Aven’s long-standing history with the TSRA and the Centre began when he started as a Trainee in 2006.

Aven reflected on his relationship with the late Billy Missi and the presence he had within the community.

“I worked with him and got to know his printing-style and the importance of the stories behind his works,” Mr Noah Jr said.

“He shared so much of himself as an artist and I am honoured to have led the curation of the exhibition and bring it home to the Gab Titui Cultural Centre, where it all started.”

The exhibition was declared open by Billy Missi’s nephew, William Missi on behalf of the Missi and extended Mabuyag families, who led a singing procession into the gallery. The opening night celebrations concluded with a moving performance by the Gubaw Goeyga Dance Group.

The Billy Missi’n Wakain Thamai exhibition is currently on show in the Wabunaw Geth Gallery at the Gab Titui Cultural Centre and will close on Saturday, 8 June 2024.


Fast facts:

  • The Gab Titui Cultural Centre is located on the corner of Victoria Parade and Blackall Street, Thursday Island Q 4875
  • The Centre is open Monday – Friday 10am to 3pm and Saturday 9:30am to 1pm (November to March) and Monday – Friday 9am – 4:30pm and Saturday 9:30am – 1pm (April to October).
  • The Gab Titui Cultural Centre’s 20th anniversary was held on 16 April 2024.
  • The Billy Missi’n Wakain Thamai exhibition opening night was 16 April 2024.
  • Gubaw Goeyga Dancer performs at Opening Night.
  • Gubaw Goeyga Dance Team Menu2019s performance at Opening Night.
  • Gubaw Goeya Gance Team members in the Wabunaw Geth Gallery, experiencing the exhibition.
  • Kaurareg Elder Nazareth Adidi and Rosie Ware experiencing the exhibition at Opening Night.
  • Elder Flora Warria translating for a visitor at opening night of the exhibition.
  • Billy Missiu2019s family, William Missi and George Bagiri in the exhibition on opening night.

Torres Strait Islanders and Aboriginal people are advised this website may contain names, images and recordings of people who have passed.