Alick Tipoti

Collection In Focus

7 Sep –
3 Nov 2024

In 2015 the Cairns Art Gallery mounted the first major survey exhibition of Torres Strait Islander artist, Alick Tipoti. Zugubal: Ancestor Spirits, was the first exhibition to consider how Zenadh Kes rock art inspires Tipoti’s arts practice and a generation of Torres Strait Islander artists.

Alick Tipoti was born in 1975 on Waiben (Thursday Island) in Maluilgal (Western Torres Strait). His traditional name is Zugub and he is an activist of the Kala Lagaw Ya people from Badu Island. Both his parents came from Badu (Mulgrave Island), where Alick lived as a child, learning from his father and grandfather who were both skilled craftsmen and artists.

Tipoti works across a range of media, including linocut printmaking, sculpture, and choreographing and performance of traditional Zenadh Kes dances and songs. His works demonstrate the connections and powerful connectivity between these artforms and celestial symbolism as a powerful sign of
that connectivity. 

This current exhibition includes works from the Gallery’s Collection, with major works dating back to 2006 that are inspired by Zenadh Kes cosmology and rock art.  The three Kisay (moon) 2015 prints celebrate and record the spiritual presence of moonlight, with Kisay the maternal figure who protects Zenadh Kes at night. Together Kisay Girer, Kisay Mabayg and Kisay Dhanga, depict how the spiritual connection to Kisay is traditionally celebrated in songs, chants, stories and dance which have been handed down for countless generations. Zugubal dancers still perform the Kisay dance, with the warup (drum) providing the beat for this happy dance. 

Alick Tipoti is a major Australian artist and a leading figure in the contemporary Torres Strait Islander
art movement which began in the mid-1990s. His work is represented in major public and private collections in Australia and overseas and he has exhibited extensively. 

Artist Showcase

Alick Tipoti 



Born 1967
Kisay Girer  2014
vinylcut, hand coloured
170 x 70 cm
Donated through the Australian Government’s Cultural Gifts Program by Alick Tipoti, 2015
Photo: Michael Marzik

The Cairns Art Gallery acknowledges the Traditional Owners of the land on which we work and live. We pay our respects to Elders past and present. Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people should be aware that this website may contain images, names or voices of deceased persons in photographs, film or text.