The Australian National Maritime Museum (and Aboriginal Art Directory) congratulates Zenadth Kes/Torres Strait artist Alick Tipoti on being recognised as this year’s NAIDOC Caring for Country and Culture Awardee. Given this year’s theme, ‘Keep the Fire Burning’, such a watery recognition is wonderfully counter-intuitive.

Tipoti himself explains the roots of his art and why it’s appropriate that he be so hailed this NAIDOC week: “My art is all about telling and illustrating the stories my father told to me. The one thing I will never do is let my forefathers’ words be lost”.

Matt Poll, the Museum’s Manager Indigenous Programs said, ‘Alick’s artistic practice extends his important community work as a language teacher, marine conservationist, dancer and choreographer, he is a role model for all artists in the way he has championed his responsibilities as a custodian of the deep ancestral knowledges of his home in Badu island, western Zenadth Kes.’

Ms Daryl Karp, Director of the ANMM added, “This recognition is so deserved. Alick is one of our country’s finest artists. As a custodian and cultural ambassador, his innate desire to keep his cultural practices alive is at the heart of all his work. Through his multi-disciplinary work, we all have the chance to begin to learn about the Zenadth Kes culture. We are immensely proud to showcase his works”.

The Museum has acquired many important pieces of Tipoti’s work for its National Collection and is currently touring Mariw Minaral (Spiritual Patterns), an exhibition of the museum’s Tipoti collection alongside other pieces loaned from the Alick himself. The exhibition will open next month in the Wanneroo Cultural Centre in Western Australia on 7 August.

Alick Tipoti is an enthusiastic visual and performance artist, community leader, linguist and regional advocate from Badu in Zenadth Kes. He is the head of the Koedal/Crocodile totem through cultural inheritance down the eldest male genealogy line and is known to his people as Zugub, meaning Spiritual Ancestor, due to the spiritual encounters he experiences through his art practice.

Tipoti is highly revered due to his ability to spread his concerns and messages through his art and has been acclaimed internationally – especially at Monaco’s Oceanographic Museum where he became close friends of the tiny State’s Prince Albert. The Prince even paid a visit to Tipoti’s remote island of Badu and a documentary featuring Alick and HSH Prince Albert II discussing climate change and its effects on the environment was released in 2020. It’s currently streaming on Stan.

Alick Tipoti’s artworks are also held in major institution collections such as the British Museum and the Cambridge Museum of Anthropology & Archaeology,

Alick is a featured artist in Sydney’s Maritime Museum

The other NAIDOC award winners for 2024 are here.