Obery Sambo creates unique responses to Meriam spirit guardians & medicine men

Obery Sambo comes from a extended line of grasp mask- and headdress‑makers from Mer (Murray Island), home to the Meriam people of the japanese Torres Strait.

In addition to producing customary headdresses from the location, Sambo results in experimental interpretations of masks and headwear that are usually activated by means of dance by the Meuram Murray Island Dance Team, established in the late 1990s, which he leads as teacher, artist and choreographer.

Sambo’s multidisciplinary practice is pushed by his means to equally retain and adapt his family’s thriving information. Footage of his Meriam ancestors dressed and dancing for ceremony was captured by University of Cambridge, United Kingdom, in 1898. The recordings served in the Meriam people’s productive Native Title ruling in 1992, regarded as the Mabo Case, as evidence of their continuing lifestyle. The impressive masks noticed in this clip are a supply of terrific inspiration for Sambo.

The artist makes his own exceptional responses to Meriam spirit guardians Sau Lamar and Sumes Borom (illustrated), and medication males Arsir Kirim le and Arsir le Kesi (illustrated). These masks are rendered in commercially generated components and paints, and whilst they might not conform to standard types, Sambo uses them as memory prompts to hold the stories of these ancestors lively.

Obery Sambo ‘Arsir Kirim le and Arsir le Kesi’

Obery Sambo, Meriams of Mer, Australia b.1970 / Arsir le Kesi #1 (Medicine male / Trainee) 2022, Synthetic polymer paint on rafia, wicker cane, twine, 97 x 90 x 5cm / Arsir le Kesi #2 (Medicine male / Trainee) 2022, Synthetic polymer paint on rafia, wicker cane, twine, 96 x 97 x 5cm / Arsir Kirim le (Medication male / Headman) 2022, Synthetic polymer paint on rafia, wicker cane, twine, 87 x 90 x 5cm / Commissioned for ‘Embodied Information: Queensland Modern day Art’ by the Queensland Artwork Gallery | Gallery of Modern Art / Courtesy: Obery Sambo / Photograph: N Harth © QAGOMA

Obery Sambo ‘Sumes Borom (Bush Boar)’

Obery Sambo, Meriams of Mer, Australia b.1970 / Sumes Borom (Bush Boar) 2019 / Coconut husk, artificial polymer paint, straw, shells, feathers, seeds / 30 x 34 x 46cm / Commissioned for ‘Embodied Know-how: Queensland Modern day Art’ by the Queensland Artwork Gallery | Gallery of Present day Art / Courtesy: Obery Sambo / Photograph: N Harth © QAGOMA

‘Embodied Awareness: Queensland Modern Art’ / Queensland Art Gallery’s Gallery 4, Gallery 5 (Henry and Amanda Bartlett Gallery) and the Watermall / 13 August 2022 to 22 January 2023

#QAGOMA

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