After a number of years behind bars in Canberra for sex crimes committed when he was a student, and much discussion about the removal of his art from public display “ eg the National Gallery pulled his Ubirikubiri bronze sculpture of a crocodile, winner of the Big Telstra prize “ Dennis Nona has emerged triumphant in Hobart where he sold no fewer than 67 artworks.

It may have helped that Nona came down to Tasmania from his Badu Island retreat where he has returned to put his life in order. But perhaps more important was his maintenance of the deeply held traditional Torres Strait Island beliefs that suffuse his art. The show was called ‘Muinu Kaipai Ngapa Kulai Ya’ translating as ˜The value of our ancestral belief system‘, and consisted of a new body of paintings, etchings, linocut prints and a wooden sculpture. Dennis has tried something new too, incorporating local clays and colouring agents such as bush juices into his paintings and prints. But the centrepiece was a carved wooden hunting platform/shrine, inlaid with a variety of traditional decorations, telling the story of the role the training a fish to assist in capturing turtles plays in the initiation of young Badu men.

At $65,000 it remained unsold. Ironically, Nona told an audience at the Art Mob Gallery that he is greatly concerned about the breakdown in law whereby people were no longer applying to the local parliament “ the kwod – for permission to hunt turtles, and were going unpunished.