Obery Sambo creates unique responses to Meriam spirit guardians & medicine men

Obery Sambo comes from a lengthy line of grasp mask- and headdress‑makers from Mer (Murray Island), residence to the Meriam persons of the japanese Torres Strait.

In addition to manufacturing customary headdresses from the area, Sambo makes experimental interpretations of masks and headwear that are normally activated by means of dance by the Meuram Murray Island Dance Team, set up in the late 1990s, which he sales opportunities as instructor, artist and choreographer.

Sambo’s multidisciplinary observe is driven by his capability to both manage and adapt his family’s flourishing understanding. Footage of his Meriam ancestors dressed and dancing for ceremony was captured by University of Cambridge, United Kingdom, in 1898. The recordings served in the Meriam people’s successful Native Title ruling in 1992, identified as the Mabo Scenario, as proof of their continuing tradition. The impressive masks viewed in this clip are a source of excellent inspiration for Sambo.

The artist results in his very own exclusive responses to Meriam spirit guardians Sau Lamar and Sumes Borom (illustrated), and drugs men Arsir Kirim le and Arsir le Kesi (illustrated). These masks are rendered in commercially created components and paints, and though they could not conform to conventional models, Sambo takes advantage of them as memory prompts to continue to keep the stories of these ancestors active.

Obery Sambo ‘Arsir Kirim le and Arsir le Kesi’

Obery Sambo, Meriams of Mer, Australia b.1970 / Arsir le Kesi #1 (Medicine gentleman / Trainee) 2022, Synthetic polymer paint on rafia, wicker cane, twine, 97 x 90 x 5cm / Arsir le Kesi #2 (Medication male / Trainee) 2022, Synthetic polymer paint on rafia, wicker cane, twine, 96 x 97 x 5cm / Arsir Kirim le (Medicine gentleman / Headman) 2022, Synthetic polymer paint on rafia, wicker cane, twine, 87 x 90 x 5cm / Commissioned for ‘Embodied Knowledge: Queensland Up to date Art’ by the Queensland Artwork Gallery | Gallery of Modern Artwork / Courtesy: Obery Sambo / Photograph: N Harth © QAGOMA

Obery Sambo ‘Sumes Borom (Bush Boar)’

Obery Sambo, Meriams of Mer, Australia b.1970 / Sumes Borom (Bush Boar) 2019 / Coconut husk, synthetic polymer paint, straw, shells, feathers, seeds / 30 x 34 x 46cm / Commissioned for ‘Embodied Know-how: Queensland Present-day Art’ by the Queensland Artwork Gallery | Gallery of Modern day Artwork / Courtesy: Obery Sambo / Photograph: N Harth © QAGOMA

‘Embodied Knowledge: Queensland Modern day Art’ / Queensland Artwork Gallery’s Gallery 4, Gallery 5 (Henry and Amanda Bartlett Gallery) and the Watermall / 13 August 2022 to 22 January 2023

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