The international traveling exhibition by the Gab Titui Cultural Centre in cooperation with the National Museum of Australia, the Australian Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade and the Australian Embassy in Belgrade, was opened on the 8th of June at the National Gallery of Macedonia’s Mala Stanica venue in Skopje, North Macedonia.

The exhibition presents masks from the Torres Strait, i.e. from the group of islands located between Australia’s North and Papua New Guinea. One of the characteristics of the traditions in this part of the world is wearing beautifully decorated masks, so this exhibition explores the rich and continuous practice Torres Strait.

As noted at the opening of the exhibition, these masks are exceptional objects of ritualistic and historical significance, with exceptional complexity and particularity.

Photo: Meta.mk

This documentary exhibition was opened by the Ambassador of Australia to North Macedonia, Daniel Joseph Emery, who stressed that the exhibition explores the rich and one of the most characteristic cultural traditions of making and wearing beautifully decorated masks.

“The Australian aboriginal art is unique. It reflects the nation’s antique culture, including its most characteristic landscapes, the nature, and the wild world of the lands they live in. For the people of the islands in the Torsen Strait, the sea and the coastal life are evident in all aspects of their art. The Australian Aboriginal people have no written languages, but instead, use cultural media, such as artwork, storytelling, dances, and songs, and all of that is used to pass vital information and to preserve their culture. The traditional symbols that are used in their artwork and which can be seen on the masks, are playing an important role in that process,” stressed Ambassador Emery.

The exhibition represents the works of the people from the Torres Strait, which counts 270 islands. It was stressed during the opening of the exhibition that the people from the islands are ethnically, culturally, and linguistically different from the aboriginal people living on the Australian continent.

The production of these masks required skills for encompassed techniques, materials, and tools.

The masks which were made of shells of tortoises, feathers, and coconut husk, and the rituals related to them are a link through which the person wearing the mask in some way is changing his identity. In old cultures, it was also a bridge for opening communication with the ancestors. The researchers have gathered the masks from these areas during the 19th century and today they are part of historical collections.

The “Evolution – masks from the Torres Strait” at Mala Stanica gallery runs until the 21st of June.