Winner works on paper at 27th Telstra Indigenous Art Award
Saulal explores the phenomenon of turtle mating season which starts on the Australian mainland and travels north through the Torres Strait Islands. At the start of the turtle mating season the Biru Biru (birds) migrate north from the mainland, across the Torres Strait to Papua New Guinea. At the end of the turtle mating season they migrate south back to the mainland.
The flights of Biru Biru are seen in the afternoons when the sun, shown in the print, is moving towards the horizon.
Turtles are found on the outer reefs and also closer to shore, near the mangroves and in the creeks that run into the sea. The ones closer to land feed on mangrove pods, one of which is depicted near the mouth of the turtle.
The flesh of the turtles that inhabit the two areas have a distinctly different taste. The ones closer to shore have a muddy or ‘freshwater’ taste that is not a highly prized as those found on the reefs.
Two Remora or sucker fish are seen with the turtle. These were used for the traditional hunting of the animals. A rope made out of coconut fibres was tied around the tail of the sucker fish and then released from a canoe into the water where the hunters know the dugong were feeding. The sucker fish would attach itself to the dugong and tow the canoe until the dugong tired. It would then be pulled to the surface and harpooned.