Billy Missi

Mabuiag Island, Zenadh-Kes (Torres Strait)

In our culture, the stories and other knowledge of our world have always been handed down orally from generation to generation since time immemorial. It is this knowledge that provides guidance.”

Billy Missi was born on Mabuiag Island in 1970. Informed by a childhood engaged with story-telling, song and dance traditions of the Wagedagam Tribe, Missi’s inherited creativity combined with his passion and experience growing up with the living customary practices prepared him for his journey into art. He felt the impulse to create when he first encountered the works of contemporary Torres Strait Islander artists in 1992, but it was not until 1999 that he felt ready to devote himself to his artistic pursuits full-time. With only minimal initial formal training on Moa Island, under the tutelage of Dennis Nona, he rapidly worked his way to the forefront of contemporary Zenadh-Kes printmaking. Missi skilfully combined traditional carving techniques, iconography and his distinct fish-bone patterns with the Western medium of the linocut to forge a new aesthetic and print movement in the 1990s alongside his peers, an aesthetic firmly based on traditional Torres Strait Islander principles. Billy Missi gained international recognition prior to his passing in 2012.

NorthSite continues to working with the Billy Missi Estate to realise posthumous exhibitions and displays including Billy Missi’n Wakain Thamai and the Bulmba-ja Digital Facade Commission in 2020.