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New exhibition Lag Meta Aus opens

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New exhibition Lag Meta Aus opens

24 Jun 2014

A view of the Lag Meta Aus exhibition.
Part of the exhibition covers pre-European contact culture in the Torres Strait, focusing on hunting, fishing, trading and raiding. Photo: George Serras.

The National Museum of Australia recently opened its newly developed exhibition, Lag Meta Aus: Home in the Torres Strait. The exhibition was opened by the chairman of the Torres Strait Regional Authority, Joseph Elu, after several years of research and planning.

The exhibition's name, Lag Meta Aus incorporates the words for home in the area's three Indigenous languages and symbolises the fact that for the 80 per cent of Islanders now living on mainland Australia, the Torres Strait Islands are still their home.

The people of the Torres Strait are of Melanesian background and speak two distinct languages: Meriam Mir in the Eastern Islands and Kala Lagaw Ya in the Central and Western islands. The Kaurareg people are traditional owners of the south-west Torres Strait.

Lag Meta Aus features stories from each of the five island groups, selected from different times in Torres Strait history, so in a sense visitors move through time and space across the Strait. There are narratives on pre-European contact, Torres Strait culture, contact between Islanders and Europeans, the arrival of Christianity, the maritime harvesting industry, World War Two, the Mabo native title case and performance culture on the islands.

A wide variety of objects are used to tell these stories and include a community-constructed double outrigger canoe, traditional feathered headdresses from across the Straits, linocut prints by Alick Tipoti and Ellarose Savage, etchings by Brian Robinson, a palm leaf diving helmet sculpture by Betty Tekahika and a dance machine headdress by Ken Thaiday.

The new exhibition is designed to reflect the complexity of the region and to bring visitors a fuller understanding of one of Australia's most remote and unique areas.

Three people standing in front of an exhibit at Lag Meta Aus.
Visitors at the opening of the Lag Meta Aus exhibition in Canberra included (from left) Frank David, Elsie Passi and Leitha Assan of the Gab Titui Cultural Centre on Waibene (Thursday Island). Photo: George Serras.
A scale replica of the traditional double outrigger canoes that the Torres Strait Islanders at Lag Meta Aus exhibition
The Kulbasaibai canoe on show in the gallery is a smaller scale replica of a traditional double-outrigger canoe synonymous with the Torres Strait. This canoe was constructed for the Museum in 2000 by the Saibai Island community. Photo: George Serras.
Four men discussing the Lag Meta Aus exhibit.
Curator Jono Lineen (far right) discusses the exhibition with (from left) artist Vic McGrath, Torres Strait Regional Authority chairman Joseph Elu, and senior curator Peter Thorley. Photo: George Serras.
Two men discussing the exhibition at Lag Meta Aus.
Torres Strait Regional Authority chairman Joseph Elu (left) and National Museum Director Dr Mathew Trinca discuss the new exhibition. Photo: George Serras.

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