Ceramic artist Janet Fieldhouse describes her work as ‘an expression of my Torres Strait Islander heritage: the material culture, rituals of social and religious life, and artefacts which are created to fulﬁl the functional and spiritual needs of the peoples of the Torres Strait’.
Mark and Memory: Janet Fieldhouse is a body of work arising from cultural investigations undertaken by Fieldhouse in recent years. These investigations have focused on three areas of Torres Strait Islander culture: women’s basketry, dance, and body decoration, in the form of scariﬁcation – which is no longer practised – and ink tattooing.
The delicately crafted ceramic pieces that make up Mark and Memory reinterpret traditional Torres Strait Islander ﬁbre baskets and bags, as well as dance armbands, and speak of the decorative and ritual aspects of scariﬁcation and ink tattoos. Of her particular interest in scariﬁcation, Fieldhouse has said:
‘The history of marking skin was unseen and not heard of in my generation. Instead, current generations use ink tattooing as a means of expressing one’s heritage. My idea was to research and produce a body of work to bring back what was unseen marking, so that the next generation will know that scariﬁcation was once a strong part of our heritage.’
Janet Fieldhouse’s practice as a ceramicist both honours and maintains Torres Strait Islander culture. At the same time, Fieldhouse’s inventive melding of ancient forms and contemporary art idioms has gained her a reputation as one of Australia’s leading young contemporary artists.
The Cairns Art Gallery acknowledges the Gimuy Walubarra Yidinji and Yirrganydji as the Traditional Owners of the area today known as Cairns. We pay our respects to Elders past, present and emerging. 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.